bioMATTERS 3D prints interior objects using clay and mycelium

The 'MYCO-CLAY' collection adopts novel bio-fabrication workflows that combine fungal networks of entangled hyphae filaments with earthenware clay and industrial waste material

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bioMATTERS is a design studio based in New York and London that mixes mycelium, clay, and domestic and industrial waste materials to 3D print bio-digitally designed vessels and bowls. The studio’s latest collection of interior objects shows the potential of 3D printing to generate robust and recycled objects for homes and spaces using organic and waste materials. The studio aims to create biodegradable products with the entrance of its new series, named ‘MYCO-CLAY’ – adopting novel bio-fabrication workflows that combine mycelium, or fungal networks of entangled hyphae filaments, with earthenware clay, a natural sedimentary material with high plasticity.

bioMATTERS 3D prints interior objects using clay and mycelium. The 'MYCO-CLAY' collection adopts novel bio-fabrication workflows.

Computational and generative design

According to the studio, led by Nancy Diniz and Frank Melendez, the vessels and bowls reflect a contemporary post-digital aesthetic. They come to life through computational precision, generative design, and 3D printing technologies – inspired by the biomechanical growth processes found in nature. bioMATTERS developed the vessels first – using computational design decoding growth algorithms which gave them different morphologies. Feeding the 3D printer with the generated design, the outcome recalls archaic, cavernous, and petrologic vessels.

The foundations of the bowls emerge from traditional basket weaving techniques, and a range of weaving parameters was considered by bioMATTERS before they inputted the design into the 3D printer. The beading effect with variable protrusions of the bowls then makes its way into the byproduct.

Mycelium, clay, and waste material

Given the speed of 3D printing and generative design technologies and processes, it is relatively quick to produce multiple pieces of these interior objects made of mycelium and clay. After being 3D printed, mycelium grows for a period of one to two weeks – until it grows and colonizes throughout the vessels’ and bowls’ exterior. As time passes, the mycelium becomes denser and forms a thicker tissue, making it look like a network of spider webs. The natural growth of mycelium stand out as a bio-glaze over the terracotta clay and industrial waste materials – all underlined by the slow graduation of their innate colors and textures.

bioMATTERS 3D prints interior objects using clay and mycelium. The 'MYCO-CLAY' collection adopts novel bio-fabrication workflows.

Mycelium, which is regenerative, can be cultivated and is considered one of the first terrestrial living organisms to inhabit land. On the other hand, clay is a material used by humans dating back multiple millennia for making art, tools, and architecture, and is plentiful these days and can be locally sourced. The use of domestic and industrial waste materials helps create a nutrient-rich substrate in which the living mycelium grows. “The pieces are intended to promote a cultural shift towards design and fabrication with biomaterials while enhancing interior spaces with a display of contemporary bio-aesthetics and bio-digital craft,” says bioMATTERS.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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