Today, mycelium is used as a biomaterial in many different ways such as packaging, acoustic panels, wall insulation, bricks in buildings, textiles and as a raw material in designed products including furniture. All these applications are realized through moulding, which is an example of a constraining intervention, currently used in bio-design. In other words, cultivation is based on forming a predefined structure such as with a mould, where the organism’s cells fill the negative space in a confined setting. For fungal material production, this process is very restrictive, reduces the degrees of freedom and there is no room for emergence. Biomaterials lose their inherent potentials that come from owning a metabolism capable of material growth in an almost limitless way. Within my research, I am investigating fungi by posing the question:
“How we can guide a living material [fungus] that has its own tendencies
and cultivate it with a minimum intervention?”.
The first phase of the study involves experimentation by paying close attention to factors that might cause a difference in the behaviour of mycelium of oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), to understand its properties and nature. After having understood its behaviour in response to different environmental factors, it suggests an irrigation system to guide the growth of mycelium. The research continues by focusing on the fruiting bodies. Changing their morphology by integrating computational tools into the bio-fabrication process aids designers to manipulate their living material robotically. Building a robotic growth chamber for that purpose helps to guide the growth of mushrooms. In conclusion, designing tools to interact with the fungus will help further manipulations of fungi for different purposes.