- The interface between life and death Co-designing with mycelium
- Tutor(s): Annika Kaldoja, Nesli Hazal Akbulut, Tanel Kärp
The aim of this project was to explore co-designing with another organism to design new interactions and ways to relate with nature. I looked into the challenge that restaurants face when trying to properly dispose of used cooking oil, and see in what ways could mycelium play a role in that picture.
As we come to realize that the great design challenges that we are facing on a global scale must be addressed in a systemic way, the need for interdisciplinarity becomes more clear. Design, biology and materials have a great role to play in crafting new narratives, and technologies to accompany them, that consider and create systems that can sustain all life.
After experimentation and getting to know mycelium, I designed a living mycelium structure into which you can discard used cooking oil and pick oyster mushrooms from. It is an attempt to explore the idea of fungi being an interface between life and death in the very specific context of restaurants and to dive into mycelium’s both recycling and mushroom producing roles. And also, an attempt to explore what sort of interactions and relationships could be crafted around these structures.
The promises of ‘ Fungi as the material of the future’ seem to only be making echo in the headlines of specialized design magazines.There is no doubt still a very long way to go.
When dealing with the potential of new materials, be it from fungi, algae, pineapples or whatever the source may be, there seems to be a generalized urge to try to make them fit into being the be all majestic solution to solve big problems in areas like food and nutrition, or plastic pollution. It’s a clear response to the need we feel to address these problems. However, one of the biggest challenges we have is to be able to evaluate where these materials actually fit and where they can really bring value and offer new perspectives.
In spite of the fact that most projects seem to go in that direction, I was a bit troubled with doing so myself. I started out this whole journey wanting to get to know mycelium and make a project in which I could explore what having nature as a co-designer could mean. So after understanding fungi a bit more, and its crucial role as the main decomposer of the world, it seemed a bit off not to really incorporate or explore this part in my work.
My project therefore stands somewhere in between the living mycelium and the dead material. It is an attempt to explore the idea of fungi being an interface between life in death in the very specific context of restaurants and to dive into mycelium’s both recycling and mushroom producing roles. And in doing so, perhaps I’m creating a piece somewhere along the lines of a memento mori.
See full project HERE