Dutch designer Eric Klarenbeek’s new Mycelium chair is a mushroom-sprouting seat that fuses organic materials with modern 3D printing technology. Working with the University of Aachen, Klarenbeek developed a way to 3D print with living cells instead of plastic or metal.
His project explores what happens when you combine modern 3D printing technology with the biological building blocks of fungi. In order to create a pliable material, the designer extracted mycelium from fungus and used the thread-like material as a base. They then mixed the mycelium with a compound of organic straw and water, creating a substance that could be fed into a 3D printer. The new substance was then printed into a sculptural chair inspired by the natural growth of fungus and organic forms in nature. Once printed, the mycelium is still living, and continues to grow. For design purposes, Klarenbeek dried the chair out and covered it with a layer of bioplastic in order to cease the mycelium’s growing process and to preserve the delicate shape. Living mushrooms were added to retain the chair’s living element, and they will reinforce the durability of the chair as they grow thicker.
The sculptural fungus chair sowed with mushroom spores that flourish over time creates a new symbol of organic technology and shows how living material can be used to make structural elements, such as furniture or even houses.