Furniture design

Exploring a fascinating bio-inclusive process with mycelium

An interdisciplinary project – Back to Dirt by Aléa proposes an integrated myco-fabrication process.

Brilliantly proposing a new, more integrated myco-fabrication process – ‘Back to Dirt’ is an extraordinary interdisciplinary research project by studio Aléa.

“Aléa’s methodology is defined by bio-inclusive design grounded in holistic observation, open-ended experimentation and transdisciplinary collaboration” says Miriam Josi and Stella Lee Prowse, founders of studio Aléa.

Myco-fabrication sustainably utilizes the growth of mycelium, the root structure of fungi to craft materials from organic waste and – Back to Dirt expands on this very process by exploring the use of local soil as a mold to grow objects below ground. 

Back to Dirt by Aléa
© Aléa

With a goal of reimagining the processes of fabrication that is regenerative – it recognizes an opportunity in the disconnect between mycelium’s conceptual use in design and its capacity in the ecosystem. 

“Myco-fabrication allows for the creation of bio-circular materials and presents a promising alternative to traditional industrial fabrication methods” they add. 

This innovative project looks to expand on the current trajectory of myco-fabrication proposing a bio-fabrication method that – instead of isolating the organism from its environment embraces its interrelationships. 

Seamlessly utilizing soil as a mold, the mycelium not only assembles the substrates but also expands beyond the mold, continuing to thrive even after the products are harvested. 

“This unique process further allows bypassing existing myco-fabrication steps, such as – sterilization, additional energy as well as plastic molds while exploring mycelium’s capacity to regenerate soils and reintroduce biodiversity” they say.

With the help of the Boisbuchet Residency Award in 2021, Aléa had the opportunity to bring the lab to nature for one week and applied their reimagined process at full scale and revealed – the first underground ‘Myco-fabricated Chair’.

This one-of-a-kind piece of furniture – skillfully uses local waste as a resource and growth as a process.

Back to Dirt by Aléa
© Aléa
© Aléa


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