Mushroom man Charlie Boyden shares his innovative self promotional project to help secure him an equally innovative placement as part of his DPS journey.
Mycelium: The vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a network of fine white filaments (hyphae).
Over the past two years I have been increasingly interested in materials, in particular the up cycling and repurposing of found materials or objects. Having recently started the Diploma in Professional Studies I had spare time for experimenting and working on projects I had dreamt about for a while, so that’s when I ordered the Mycelium.
My plan was simple, or maybe not so. Make a lunch box out of mycelium, but instead of stopping the growth process of the mycelium by subjecting it to high temperatures like instructed, I would allow mushroom spores to form over the box. These would then be trimmed off and set aside. The lunch box would then be exposed to high temperatures, triggering the end of any further fungus. After being heated I would fill the lunch box with it’s mushrooms, adding a package of risotto rice and instructions. This together would make a fully biodegradable Fungus for Lunch Box with a MYrisotto (make yourself) kit within.
This lunch box would then be hand delivered to a few studios or people, in The Netherlands, that also work with the material or who are pushing creativity within product and furniture design through the exploration of materials like mycelium.
Mycelium is overpriced and undervalued. Not enough people are producing the material in order to lower costs and not enough big brands are taking the leap to use it. There is one large producer and seller of mycelium packaging and Mycelium GIY (grow it yourself) Kits in America, a company called Ecovative. They recently formed a collaborative company with designer and mycelium explorer Eric Klarenbeek, where together they are bringing the material into Europe easier and cheaper for designers and consumers like myself.
There is a huge market for mycelium, it has the possibility to be the material of the future but not enough people are seeing it true potential. For this to happen I am becoming a part of the growing community of designers and artists who are attempting to push the material into the public eye. You could probably say that in creating Fungus for Lunch it has taken the form of a self promotion project, which it has, but I see it as a stepping stone to a bigger platform and area for experimentation.
Throughout this exploration I learnt a few things, one being the knowledge that mycelium is fragile. You have to be so careful not to infect the mix with bacteria, yeast or moulds otherwise it could risk the material failing to act the proper way. Another is temperature. I lost many days of growing time due to the room not being hot enough for the mycelium to grow in. The best temperature is 23 degrees and so to achieve this heat I built a wooden rack, within which I placed the mycelium ad covered with an electric blanket. These are both things that I have learnt from and will change in future explorations.
Right now I’m waiting for the final stages of the mycelium growth. They should in fact be ready to leave the moulds tonight and will be left to grow the spores over the coming days, with myelin to go to Amsterdam at the end of this week.'