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New York-Based Company First to Make Furniture Out of Commercial, Self-Assembling Fungi

Nov 15, 2016 05:31 AM EST
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A New York-based company is now manufacturing furniture out of fungi.

Ecovative Design is a startup that wants to utilize mycelium for its growth. This is the thread-like "roots" that mushrooms have when small pieces of stalks and stems are bound together. They use the same roots to meld into soft packaging for glassware, or even pressed into boards for footstools they are selling.

Ecovative co-founder Gavin McIntyre explained that it's like growing a tree shaped into furniture. Only this time it's mushrooms that growing. The simple stools are organic markers in the ambitious efforts of researchers to commercial grow fungi, bacteria, and protein. The future may hold bacteria-based clothing and building materials.

Supporters like McIntyre are envisioning a world where micro-organisms are factories of the future. This will inevitably displace energy-costly manufacturing tools with more sustainable models. According to Phys.org, the field is still young, but its products hold promise. Companies are now making bricks without kilns, leather without cows, and silks without spiders.

One of their myco-boards look and feel similar to particle boards in cabinets and big-box store furniture. However, a look in their factory will show that the minuscule white mycelium threads around the place will look like giant pieces of frosted wheat. It's as if the fungus themselves are assembling on their own.

McIntyre and co-foudner Eben Bayer were students in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute almost a decade now. Now 90 percent of people in their business have found initial success selling a compostable alternative to plastic foams used for packaging items like computers and glass bottles.

However, the two believed the product still had more potential. Now they have figured out a way to create boards by applying head and temperature, and now flexible cushions. They are selling grown-for-home items like their Imperial Stool for $199. Their other bricks and boards are made from their "biofabricated" products. 

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