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Fresh Fungal Furniture!

Posted by Tom

Fresh Fungal Furniture!

Good morning all!

Today’s post concerns a particular furniture making material that, to be honest, has yet to grow on me. Even after having having done some extensive research on it, and even with a deeper appreciation for and understanding of this particular method, it is still taking some getting used to.

The material in question- Fungi!

Thanks to artist and inventor, Phil Ross, of San Francisco, those of you searching the showroom floors and scouring the web for furniture made of mushrooms will all be pleased to know that the answer to your fungal furniture needs has arrived! Made of a particular type of mushroom known as the Reishi mushroom, Ross’s collection is non-toxic and this kind of mushroom is actually sometimes used as a health tonic. In fact, the fungal tissue that binds the furniture together is durable, lightweight, stronger than concrete, fireproof, waterproof, mold resistant, and has better insulation than fiberglass. You can even just chuck your chair into the ground when you don’t want it anymore and it’ll simply decompose!


Not to sound all presupposing and unsophisticated, But like I mentioned before, I needed some convincing…

There are certain things in life that always have and (for myself, at least…) always will come with a particular set of associations and preconceived notions. Take fungus for example, the word no doubt conjures up mental images of slimy, odorous, and moldy substances growing in a dark, damp place. Do you remember the first time you were told that mushrooms were a kind of fungus? I bet it was awhile before you ordered that mushroom barley soup of the day at your favorite local place again, wasn’t it…

But Phil, who has been doing experimental research on fungi and mushroom biology for more than 20 years, explains that he first discovered he could use living fungi as construction material when he made casted sculptures with them. He calls this process of building with mycelium, “mycotecture.” While that sounded like voodoo magic to me, he said the general concept is really “not that much different than cheese making or beer making.”

Phil does have high hopes for building with fungal material in the future. “They’re inevitably going to be part of our world because they’re so energetically low and there’s no waste generated from this process,” he said.

His line of furniture called the Yamanaka series will be on display at the Workshop Residency through Sunday, November 4 and can be purchased from his site afterwards.

However, as a matter of personal preference, I think I will stick to some of the more conventional styles like those here at Madison Seating, as their products come with a very reassuring  fungus free guarantee!


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