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Material Incubator

Powered by Caradt, MNEXT and Delft University of Technology

Living Fungal Artefacts

Everyday fungal encounters for the tuning of living aesthetics in mycelium materials – A Caradt BAD Research Project

Research Professor(s):

Dr. Elvin Karana – Research Professor Biobased Art and Design

Principle Investigator(s):

Wasabii Ng – PhD Researcher

Project Partner(s):

Funding:

NWO PhD

Project Period

December 2020 – December 2024

Research Group Biobased Art and Design (BAD)

The research group Biobased Art and Design capitalises on the role of artistic practice in unlocking the unique potentials of living organisms for everyday materials and communicating these to a broader public. In doing so, the group aims to instigate and accelerate our widespread understanding, further development and usage of such materials. The group’s research approach encourages tangible interactions with the living organisms, such as algae, fungi, plants and bacteria, to explore and understand their unique qualities and constraints through diverse technical and creative methods taking artists, designers and scientists as equal and active partners in the material creation.

Project

Contributing to the field of biodesign, this PhD research investigates the design potentials of mycelium materials for Living Fungal Artifacts (LFA).

Living Aesthetics is a biodesign principle that examines the way humans experience living artefacts over time – for example, a living artefact’s gradual or immediate change in colour, form, or function, which offer novel responsive behaviour and interaction possibilities in design. Wasabii uses the term Fungal Encounters to refer to the everyday encounters between living mycelium materials and nonliving elements (i.e., abiotic) in the context of use.

Fungal Encounters leverages on livingness as an ecological and social phenomenon, emphasising a reciprocal relationship between humans and living materials, where abiotic elements within a context can help surface these relationships in the experience of these materials. In this way, Living Fungal Interfaces can reflect ways of living and doing in the everyday (without a need of digital elements) and can help elicit novel practices for the wellbeing of humans and living materials alike.

In recent years, an increased concern for designing to mitigate environmental crises suggests a more regenerative production paradigm as a vision for a different future. Within the expanding field of biodesign, collaborations with living organisms such as algae, fungi, bacteria, and plants are being explored to co-create artefacts. Our experiments raise inherent questions about care, reciprocity, and ethics. This PhD research addresses environmental and social crises by highlighting the invisible fabric and network of microorganisms, which leads us to design new methods of/for care, re-inventing industrial processes and foregrounding socio and cultural practices.