Reuse of individual packaging

Nothing Permanent explores the value of packaging materials and gives them another use. We imagine that a second life of packaging materials would already be integrated into the design.
Could fungal spores already be incorporated into the cavities of a film? Are the air cushions shaped more like a shoe sole instead of small knobs?
Whereas the structure of the packaging, into which the mycelium can grow, dictates a shape, nutrients present in the household can additionally cause these materials to differ in their colour, flexibility and strength.

Stefanie Putsch
project:mutual affairs

full concept text

At the beginning of the semester I tried to find a method and replacement for objects and textiles that take a very temporary roll in our daily lives. These could have anything between felt gliders, swiffer cloths or rags. Things that were often overlooked or left in a corner. They did however all have a similarity in their touch, colour and insulation capabilities to mycelium. I wanted to find out if I could grow mycelium that looked and moved the same way.

My material research started out by experimenting with the flexibility of mycelium. How can I develop a structure, that is both stable and flexible in one piece of fabric? By getting to know the way mycelium grew, I built a tool box that could hopefully let the Mycelium grow into it’s structured shape, provoking the hard and soft variety in the material.

Packaging material has a similar effect in ways of being temporary. Although actually “only” noticed for securing fragile objects, their functions in protection are nevertheless quite solid and pragmatic. Without dismissing these qualities, one could imagine growing mycelium in their individual airpockets. They could even be considered as a habitat and a shaping tool for the myceliums growth. In the process, the air cushions could be additionally individualized, for easy accessibility afterwards. As the sole of a shoe, for example. Nutrients and fungal spores could be encapsulated during production and would have to be activated by the consumer. What if the shape of a Jacket could be chosen by the consumer as packaging material the consumer would only have to pour water over it, for it to grow happily. Bubble wrap films made of natural polymers would be even more interesting in terms of the recycling method. One of my intentions behind this project was to continue to incorporate already existing and quite fascinating structures into the design, but also expand the structure type of these packaging foils to give them an individualized second life.

This process does not only serve as a recycling process, but can also mean an upgrade for this quite cheap and easily produced industrial material. Here I can especially see an interest in designers, who could have a greater influence on recycling half-tools and thus ensure a second life for them.