Mediamatic: What made you start working with mycelium/mushrooms?
Jonas Edvard: My interest in mushroom came from growing up next to a national park in the very north of Denmark, where me and my family would go looking for edible mushrooms. I have always enjoyed to investigate in nature and to explore natural environments of the landscape. I knew a lot about mushroom when I started the project but was really amazed by Paul Stamets and his research, and the fact that you could cultivate mycelium and produce healthy organic food from waste.
In your talk at Mediamatic you explained to see waste as a resource, can you elaborate on that?
We live in an age of waste. Previous interests in creating useful products made us believe that by optimizing the life span of a product meant that it would become more useful - that is a lie, most products nowadays do not last long, mainly because we buy new. We as human beings are lazy, we do not recycle by ourselves. Product designers and industrial designers must think twice before satisfying consumers with plastic products that will last 1000 years. Instead we should celebrate nature and culture and create products that can be trashed without any worries. Optimizing means leaving an positive ecological footprint behind instead and looking at waste as a resource, as nature does. The MYX lamp can be used as organic fertilizer, that improves the quality if the soil, and creates a better tomorrow.
How did you start your project? What was your approach?
The most important thing when working with mycelium depends on two things: use a clean and pasteurized substrate and work with fresh living mycelium. If you want to start creating things in the material, you need to remember to clean all tools (scolding them in boiling water, and sterilizing them with alcohol) To pasteurize the substrate i normally cook the material and let it cool down in a closed environment, afterwards i mix it with inoculated mycelium substrate in the ratio 1:5 - more of the living organism the easier it is for it to survive and grow big. I am in contact with a Danish organisation called http://biologigaragen.org/ who combines art, science and technology and shares knowledge, technology and space with its members to create a open platform for public research.
What is your opinion regarding mycelium's potential "plastic of 21st century" and its possible future commercial use?
Mushroom is not the "new" thing; it is a organism that can supply us with new materials, that are eco-friendly, organic and sustainable. We can, if we want change the way things are made. Waste in nature is translated into food and resources. We can learn from nature and the way resources are used. Too many people create too much waste, but there is a solution, and that is using mushrooms to grow food from waste and to create new materials for buildings, houses, furniture etc.
We need to develop businesses that can develop the technology and the materials and change our society into a non-toxic and healthy system of humans that are all useful. We need to create work opportunities, that are not only about better social communication or distribution of written knowledge, but emphasize on a better community in both local stronghold and use of materials.
Beside the MYX lamp, are there other products you are developing? Or wish to make?
I am constantly trying out how to produce and to control processing mushroom material. I have developed some production methods that allow me to shape products in new ways and I am currently trying out these possibilities. To me it is interesting to search for new ways of producing a material in order to gain maximum understanding of the potential in the construction and function. I have developed a lamp - but for my current project I am working with the sound absorbing qualities of the material.
Are there other waste materials you are working on?
As I mentioned at the talk, I am currently working on a Seaweed project together with Nikolaj Steenfatt (DK) and we are creating furniture from seaweed and recycled paper. The projects aims at using a new organic material by combining it with waste to show how products of the future can be made, Seaweed inhabits the biggest area of the world - the oceans - but we know very little about all the different species, even though it is a fantastic food ressource. In the future I would like to see a new bio-industry incorporating sea-farms that produce, Oysters, muscles and seaweed. The project and furniture will be exhibited in Copenhagen in an Exhibition called Re_form 2014 The 12th of June.