Fungi Futures - Movements in Mycelium


Mycelium, the thread-like underground root network of Fungi often referred to as the Wood Wide Web is vital to the survival of our natural environment. By forming bonds with the root networks of plants and trees mycelium forms an underground network capable of passing nutrients and warning messages from plant to plant. It is also crucial in the breakdown of dead plants and organisms, revitalising soil and enabling new life to grow.

Author and fungal biologist Merlin Sheldrake will discuss his ongoing research into these natural wonders and mychorrizal fungi (those than form mutually beneficial connections associations between plant roots). Merlin's book, Entangled Life: Fungal Networks and Intimacies is out in May 2020 published by Random House.Mycelium can also be nurtured in lab situations as a biodegradable alternative to plastic and has been used to create clothing, shoes, artwork and furniture. At the forefront of these developments at the intersection of sustainability and design is Ehab Sayed founder of Biohm, an organisation that use biological systems to drive innovation in domestic design. Sayed will discuss his research and the landmark projects of the company from with product designers through to producing mycelium based insulation on an industrial scale.Nancy Diniz, course leader of the MA in Biodesign at Central Saint Martins University of the Arts London will discuss her experience at the forefront of biotechnological advances in architecture, design and education with mycelium and other bio-materials.

Nancy is an architect, co-founder of bioMATTERS LCC and Course Leader of the MA in Biodesign at Central Saint Martins UAL. Her research and practice engage topics pertaining to biotechnology and computational design. Her work has been published and exhibited internationally at various venues including ‘Biodesign Here Now’ London Design Festival 2019, Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2019 and 2013, Istanbul Design Biennale 2016, EYEBEAM NY 2016, The Today Art Museum, China, GAA Foundation and MILAN EXPO 2015.The panel will also be joined by Phil Ross, Co-founder and CTO of MycoWorks, a San Francisco based company bringing fine mycelium leather to the fashion world.Phil Ross is an artist, inventor, and scholar whose internationally-awarded and exhibited research is focused on biomaterials. His innovations in mycelium engineering are globally recognized as foundational to the invention of mycotecture, the practice of building with mycelium. Founded in 2013, MycoWorks produces materials using fungi sourced from the roots of mushrooms. Ross is also a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University, USA.

The talk will ask whether investigating and embracing the natural world can inform and improve our everyday life and find solutions to man made environmental crises.This discussion was supported by the Gaia Art Foundation as part of Somerset House’s wider events programme linked to Mushrooms: The Art, Design & Future of Fungi. The exhibition is part of the Charles Russell Speechlys Terrace Room Series at Somerset House.