excursion to Zaandam

On our study trip to the Netherlands we had the chance to meet designers Eric Klarenbeek & Maartje Dros in their studio in Zaandam near Amsterdam. Eric provided us a substantial insight into their way of working and the purposes they are following in design. Their main focus lies on 3D-printing living organisms such as mycelium, the threadlike structures of fungi, growing in the ground. Further they want to work against the wasteful, pollutive industrial production processes of our times. They want to lead the comparatively young market of 3D printing in the direction of local production by establishing DIY printers using organic waste which reduces transportation and finally leads to a smaller or even negative carbon footprints.

The most famous result of their work might be the mycelium chair 1.0 with its „branchy“ appearance, inspired by naturally grown structures. The first step in producing it is a printed PLA shell, filled with fungus infused bio waste pulp. The second step is taken on by the living organism itself by growing its mycelium network through the material, giving it the strength it needs to fulfill its purpose. The beautiful evidence of life’s involvement in the process is seen in the popping out mushrooms, the fruiting bodies of the fungus. The fungi he uses are actually nothing special, they are well known species like Shiitake and Oyster mushroom so it is quite possible to grow your own projects at home. Therefore the studio just started offering a self growing kit for little money, trying to show how easy involving nature can be and delivering a good source of inspiration.

In future they want to impact the market with products such as packaging materials and isolation layers. There are also experiments with coatings, benefitting from the mycelium’s water and fire resistance. No need in saying that in the end all of it would be bio degradable. Some of these projects, like replacing styrofoam, will be developed in cooperation with the American company Ecovative.