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Growing Lab, the future of plastics by fungi?

The Growing Lab of Maurizio Montalti: a laboratory that explores how the mycelium of the fungi can be a natural binder for the creation of materials. From a product design perspective the lab already has an enormous potential to grow wild. The material is sustainable, looks beautiful and production costs are low. We have seen many designers taking inspiration from imitating nature, and creating new materials that are stronger, more sustainable or more comfortable. Although the field of bio mimicry still grows and has already produced in many beautiful products, Montalti is not woring in this field entirely: he does not imitate the natural process, he questions it from a design perspective. How can the designer interfere in nature? How can he mould it into new formats? Can he even improve nature? “Biodesign goes beyond mimicry by integrating, dissolving boundaries and synthesizing new hybrid typologies,” as William Myers points out in his extensive publication on Biodesign. The Growing Lab is such a hybrid. Montalti opens a completely new perspective on a natural product that no one easily would consider from its material richness. He is showing us various ways in which the fungus can find potential new habitats. The lab is a place to assist imaginative thinking for speculation purposes. What if we could use fungi as building material? What if this process could be used in the medical field? Could it perhaps create natural binders for organs or skin?

The Growing Lab also collaborates with the research in the Fungal Biodiversity Centre of the University of Utrecht with prominent scientists who try to understand the mechanisms involved in secretion of proteins and the role of secreted proteins in bacterial membrane biogenesis and fungal growth and development.

Momenteel is het werk van Montalti te zien in het Universiteitsmuseum in Utrecht

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