Design Brief

Mycelium is the “root-like” structure of a fungus. It is a network of branching hyphal cells that acts as a pathway of nutrient and information exchange. Traditionally mycelium has been understood through its relationship with the development of a sexual fungal fruiting body, or a mushroom. It has also been widely studied in its role as a nutrient and information highway between other living organisms such as trees and plants as mycorrhizal mycelium. Recently mycelium has been cultivated and shaped through the lens of material science to highlight some of its incredible strengths.

Mycelium does not have a uniform growth shape, meaning this network of hyphal cells can grow into ultimately any shape and size. Mycelium also exhibits some very valuable material characteristics. It represents strong binding strength, flame retardancy, as well as water hydrophobicity.

These material characteristics make mycelium a strong contender as a method of replacing toxic materials that do not work well within Earth’s natural system of recycling.

Growing mycelium on organic agricultural waste (i.e. sawdust, straw, coffee grounds, corn stover, mulch…) allows the grower to shape this mix of materials (substrate and mycelium) into a desired product. The mycelium when grown in prime conditions will chemically break down the substrate and consume it into its own fungal body. Without the structural limitations of a specific shape, the horizon of potential products and sustainable applications is endless

We are challenging you to tackle a problem that exists in our world and solve it with mycelium. This problem can be as simple as replacing a toxic material product with a sustainable mycelial alternative, or as complex as the next big innovation in the field of industrial mycology.

Keep in mind we encourage creativity and outside the box thinking. Do not feel as though you simply need to replace an existing product one-for-one. Do not be afraid to invent a whole new product, or improve on something that already exists.

Our challenge for you is:

Create a growth form/mold, and successfully use that form to grow a mycelial shape.

What we want:

  • A home-made growth form- try to use eco-friendly materials if possible.

  • A design that has function and potential to replace something not eco-friendly.

  • A product that will biodegrade when composted at the end of its life.

  • A solution to some problem, large or small.

  • Something we haven't seen before.

  • Creativity (do not be afraid to push the limits of how we view/use products).

  • Images shared via Google Drive to using naming convention “Contest_Team/Yourname_2019

What we don’t want:

  • To see existing designs recreated or copied.

  • A design without function and solely form (though they are cool, you can do better).

  • Non sustainable material woven or fused in with the mycelium (I.E. plastic fortification, harmful glue, toxic finishes, non compostables/biodegradable additives.

  • Do not mail in your physical project.


3 winners/winning teams will receive:

  • Specially embroidered Ecovative hat

  • Side Stack Table

  • GIY Material

  • GIY Growth Form

  • Designer Spotlight feature.

Getting Started:

More information for the contest is in the drop-down menu for “Mycelium Design Contest” located in the footer below.