Melbourne, Victoria | 2023
Owen Fisher, Hanah Wexler, Chris Stribley, Jonathan Davis, Jessica Coulter, Tyron Nohr, Darren Parisella, Felipe Ballaben
The ‘Shroom Tomb’ was born out of a desire to explore the versatility and circularity of the humble mushroom root, and to unveil its potential both as a raw by-product and as a cultivated material feature.
When our friends at Beulah reached out to ask if we would be interested in designing an installation for an exhibition at Hanover House as part of Craft Contemporary 2023, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into but we responded with a resounding ‘YES’.
Our brief was to present an exploration of future materials in application, with an emphasis on sustainable materiality as it applies to future retail spaces. We landed on Mycelium as our material of choice.
Why Mycelium? In an era defined by the ephemeral nature of pop-up retail, mycelium (a.k.a. mushroom root) is emerging as the key to sustainability and innovation. This ancient, versatile, and ever-evolving substance holds immense promise in reshaping the way we think about sustainable materials.
Although, at present, Mycelium holds little structural promise, the material boasts other qualities that make it appealing. Namely, it is fire-retardant, has superb acoustic insulation qualities, and is 100% biodegradable — meaning that as soon as it is stripped from a fitout, it can be recycled into compost, closing the loop on the material lifecycle, rather than contributing unnecessarily to the problem of construction waste.
A simple, lightweight gabion wall system (custom fabricated by our friends at Formanova) forms the basis of the structure, which has then been filled with mycelium blocks produced by Unearthed as a by-product of its mushroom farming operations. Inside, three large-scale mycelium panels hang on display, their colour and texture evocative of natural stone. Illuminating the space is a mycelium pendant, designed and crafted by Richard Greenacre, Mechelle Shooter, and Josh Reisel.
Special thanks to Flynn Williams, for helping us to grow the mycelium panels, and to Josh Reisel for teaching us the ways of this marvellous material.
Photography by Pier Carthew