Biodesign creates mushroom interiors – NRK Kultur og underholdning

Biodesign creates mushroom interiors - NRK Kultur og underholdning

Right before the pandemic, Renee Isabel Jung had an idea.

She is a trained molecular biologist who specializes in the mushroom kingdom and has been interested in mushrooms since learning about their completely unique properties at university.

Mushrooms can be used in an incredible amount. Among other things, it can be used to clean up oil spills and smash plastic. Jung says when I found out that you can make different materials from mushrooms, it intrigued me.

The world’s climate challenges are aligned like never before. One of the biggest challenges we face is that most of the materials we use are not renewable and pollute the planet. This is where Jung’s idea comes in.

Bio-design studio Mycela uses the mushroom root system, which is called PieAnd To develop an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional materials and products in interior design, design and architecture.

Mycelium has the ability to bind to organic waste such as sawdust, corn husks and natural textiles by “eating” the waste. The result is a one hundred percent biodegradable and reusable material that can replace plastic, wood, Styrofoam and leather, among other things.

Choose for yourself: One of the types of fungus used so often in the Norwegian company is varnish, a powerful mushroom that lives on trees. A small piece of mushroom can yield millions of more usable ‘clones’, explains biologist Sundry Eng.

Photo: Shen Li/NRK

You will meet sustainability with aesthetics

At Mycela’s studio in Tøyen, they actively test different types of fungi with different types of waste to see which formulations are most suitable for the different areas of use out there. At the moment, they focus on in-house product development.

– here We make everything from lampshades and art objects to acoustic damping panels that can be used in offices and restaurants, says Maria Helena Aslund, who is creative at Mesella.

The Norwegian firm mainly works with clients such as architecture firms, interior designers, construction projects and interior design. The goal in the future is to be able to fill Norwegian homes with mushrooms.

One of our goals is to be able to sell our products to individuals. Everyone who wants sustainable indoor alternatives, says Aslund.

She believes that many sustainable products fail to meet aesthetic requirements.

– We know that aesthetics is an important thing for many architects and interior designers, so we want to offer an alternative that focuses on this.


Milium: A piece of mushroom is placed on a plate with agar gel that nourishes the fungus. Then you finally get a pure pancake that looks like many thin white threads on the plate – as you can see here.

Photo: Shen Li/NRK


… Then you take a few pieces of the fungus and put them with the cereal to double the mass. Then the fungus grows and becomes much larger. This process is called “innate ovulation”.

Photo: Shen Li/NRK


The next step is to mix the fungal mass with biological waste. – So far, sawdust has by far the best results we’ve tested. Young says that wood fibers are tough and thus provide a solid material.

Photo: Shen Li/NRK

Mycela makes a sound board

The fungal mass is allowed to grow in adapted forms for one to two weeks. The process ends with the heat treatment of the product. The result is a lightweight and durable carbon-negative product. Here with Mycela’s acoustic panels.

Photo: Shen Li

Mushroom roots + biological waste = true

In recent years, mushrooms have become a hot topic in many industries. In the fashion world, mushrooms have become a moot point because they can be used to make a leather-like substance that can replace leather.

The adidas brand has already made Mushroom leather sneakersDesigner Stella McCartney started using the material in her clothing and Hermés launched her first luxury bag made of mycelium. IKEA has stated that in the future it will focus on fungus packaging.

In the architecture industry, there are many who are looking for the possibilities of using fungus technology buildings and homes. It is clear that they want to contribute to the green transformation of the world of design and architecture, but they realize that mushrooms cannot replace absolutely everything.

– We are working to find out what could replace it, or what is more suitable for it, says Maria Helena Aslund.

One of these opportunities can be the production of building materials. Mushroom material can be used inside walls as insulation thus replacing traditional materials such as mineral wool.

– In the long term, we also have ambitions to be able to offer an alternative to Styrofoam in packaging. René Isabel Jung adds that there will be many opportunities when we rise and gain proper control over our production.


Packaging of the future?: Mycela has ambitions to develop an alternative to traditional Styrofoam packaging in the long term. Here they show a prototype they made.

Photo: Shen Li/NRK

Challenge with size

A very passionate about mushroom technology is the CEO of the Norway Foundation for Design and Architecture (DOGA), Tor Inge Hjemdal. He says they are constantly looking for materials that do not contribute to polluting the world in which we live.

Some of the materials we have around us are not good either for us or for nature, so exploring renewable materials like fungi I think is great. The challenge will be to get large scale productions like this one. This is where the shoe often hits.

An obvious trend in the design and architecture industry is the exploration of nature’s materials. Hjemdal points out that both fungi, seaweed It could replace materials with greater climate emissions in the future.

We are pressured, in a positive sense, to think new in terms of sustainability goals. The director of DOGA believes that this is a good and positive development in the right direction.

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Ashura Okorie

Ashura Okorie

"Infuriatingly humble web fan. Writer. Alcohol geek. Passionate explorer. Evil problem solver. Incurable zombie expert."

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