Grown Furniture: Sebastian Cox and Ninela Ivanova explore biofacture

Collaborators Sebastian Cox and Ninela Ivanova have created a collection of ‘grown furniture’ entitled Mycelium + Timber.

First presented at Design Frontiers 2017, furniture designer and maker Sebastian Cox has collaborated with design strategist and thinker Ninela Ivanova to create new pieces of ‘grown furniture’. The furniture, made up of stools and lampshades, is made using mycelium (fungus) and wood.

Christened Mycelium + Timber, the furniture is brought to life using freshly cut wood waste from Sebastian’s woodland, which has been myceliated with the fungus species Fomes fomentarius. This fungus creates the piece as it grows, binding the green wood waste together around purpose-made frames.

The furniture was displayed as part of a ‘work in progress’ installation which divulged the research and experimentation the collaborators undertook. The remarkable relationship between the wood and fungus that creates these designs occurs naturally, and each furniture design piece is formed to be strong, light weight and completely compostable.

Mycelium offers us the opportunity to create products that not only continue, but advance our ethos of sustainability, and test our ability as a studio to design for new methods of manufacture,” Sebastian says.

His design partner Ninela adds, “Mycelium has been the focus of my design research and practice for the last seven years. It is a novel and versatile material. It offers new and sustainable processes for design fabrication but it also asks us to carefully consider and craft the aesthetic properties and perception of these new design forms.”

Through their extensive research and investigation, the collaborators have found that the Fomes fomentarius works most effectively with two species of British wood that, at present, do not have an economical value: coppiced hazel and goat willow.

Known as biofacture, the process of using biological organisms to manufacture new materials has not yet been applied to commercial furniture design – but it seems Sebastian and Ninela’s shared vision could change this.

With their combined expertise in mycelium, wood, and design, Sebastian and Ninela have created a collection that could confidently adapt our material culture. With such a unique concept, there is hope that experiments and designs such as Mycelium + Timber could positively influence the way people choose the objects in their homes.

All photos © Petr Krejci Photography

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