These days I’ve been spending time at New Lab, a shared office space filled with futuristic start-ups working in 3D printing, robotics, design, and A.I., as a part of the Science Sandbox fellowship. Being there sometimes feels a bit like I’m in a mash-up of Star Trek and the Fifth Element, which is exactly where I’d most like to be in the universe. So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when someone walked into my office and says, want to go to a mushroom workshop? Let me think…
The workshop was held by Danielle Trofe, a designer who is headquartered in Industry City. To make our pots, we used the same mycelium-infused material she uses in her MushLume lighting collection, which looks a bit like a hobbit’s version of high design. The same material was used to make a series of unusual benches at New Lab.
We started by sanitizing the surfaces of a plastic take out container and plastic drinking cup that together would serve as the mold for our planters. The grow-it-yourself material, which is brown and looks like mulch, is made out of corn husks and other agricultural byproducts which has been infused with liquid mycelium (you can buy it yourself at www.ecovativedesign.com).
We filled the containers and watched as over the course of 4 days, the brown material slowly became more white as the mycelium grew, binding the pot together. I removed the pot from the mold and enclosed in a puffed-up plastic bag so that it could have the freedom to grow a nice, soft white layer on the outside surfaces of the pot without drying out. The final step made me feel strangely guilty – you kill the growth by baking it in at 200 degrees in the oven for an hour. The final product is light and has give, and feels like you grew a pot out of mushrooms. It even has that lovely earthy fungal aroma.