Research through design

One of the challenges of this century is to transform our current economy into an eco-friendly and self-sustaining system. An innovative approach is the use of mycelium for the development of materials. Mycelium is an interwoven network of fungal filamentous cells called hyphae. Fungi form these mycelia on a wide variety of organic substrates. Mushroom forming fungi are known for their efficient colonization of ligno-cellulosic substrates like wood and straw. In a project of NWO Creative Industry we have developed sub-millimeter to centimeter thick layers of pure mycelium of a mushroom forming fungus. Depending on growth conditions and treatment, materials have been obtained that resemble paper, rubber, plastic and wood.

Composite biomaterials are achieved by growing mycelium of mushroom forming fungi organisms as Schizophyllym commune (split gill fungus), in a matrix of organic material such a s saw dust. The resulting materials resemble cork and wood and were used to make panels and objects. In this project, we aim to develop a palette of mycelium-based pure and composite materials with different physical properties. Designers, artists, producers and end-users will explore the potential of the materials and will provide feedback how to improve the properties of the mycelium. This should result in tailor-made mycelia for innovative design solutions and new concepts of sustainable materials.

People involved

F.V.W. (Freek) Appels MSc

dr. P. (Pauline) Krijgsheld

dr. L.G. (Luis) Lugones

M. Montalti MSc

prof. dr. H.A.B. (Han) Wosten



M. (Maurizio) Montalti Msc, Design Academy Eindhoven (DEA), Officina Corpuscoli

dr. E. (Elvin) Karana, Design Engineering Delft University of Technology (TUD)

Prof. dr. K.M.B. (Kaspar) Jansen, Emerging Materials, Design Engineering Delft University of Technology (TUD)