What lies at the sociological and technological intersection in design?

Mycelium Matters: An Exploration in Novel Biomaterials

Siddhant Malviya
Classroom Project
M.Des 2016
Product Design

student portfolio︎︎︎

Mycelium Matters explored recent developments of biomaterials, fungus-based composites and biopolymers (mycelium based material). It was an inquiry into new ways of designing and creating products technologically and sociologically. The work explored ways to create mycelium-based composites through experiments with different mushroom species, a variety of carbon sources for the fungi to grow on, and in different regulated environmental conditions. As a result, I discovered new methods for working with mycelium and derived interesting material samples and properties.

My foremost intent was to explore a set of design directions, and in the process, develop viable prototypes and material samples and try increasingly varied ideas to chart a map of the domain. The aspiration is to see a world where every material is part of an ecology; the hopeful development where life can survive and thrive on life itself. I inquired into the material to see if it could be worked with, be useful, and point to other directions. This required asking if the work so far can also be successfully replicated. The experiments had to be designed first to realize a design outcome. It taught me how to design with the material first, and find needs it can serve.

Mushroom cultivation is underrated, and mycology is a mysterious and fascinating domain of inquiry. It is also suitable for several product applications, especially to carry forward developments towards advanced biomaterials. Also, working with biology is fun.

The project could sustain experiments for a craft-based, community-centric approach, and create dialogue and inquiry into biomaterials and biodesign. While completely material and utilitarian, mycelium has paved the way for a more open, discursive, practical and biological design practice. Design is a process of appreciating and finding good ideas, and my practice will now take me on this exploration of biology and production.


Work of Phill Ross, Gavin McEntyre, Elise Elsacker and others.