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Mushroom Magic

As many of you know, we have somewhat of a love affair going on with all things mushroom and fungi in the Luminary studio. From our Chaga and Reishi smoothies for immunity-boosting in the morning to Anna’s husband growing lockdown mushrooms in their garden shed. We even grew yellow and pink oyster mushrooms especially for our shoot for Issue 24, Colour Medicine (as seen below). And in Issue 25 we are featuring textile colours which are grown from blue Fungi by Myco Colour (as seen below). We keep spotting mushroom images and references everywhere right now!

There is a growing belief that mushrooms could indeed save our planet! From fashion to architecture to beauty and packaging we are seeing a growth in the use of mycelium and fungi grown materials. In our recent Report on The Future of Colour, released September 2021, we highlighted many favourite mushroom products like Mylo Unleather currently on the market with brands like Lulu Lemon, Hermes and Stella McCartney.

“Stella is so into mushrooms that she decided to devote her entire return to Paris Fashion Week (SEP 21) to what she proclaimed to be the ‘future of fashion’."- Vogue. Oct. 2021

‘There was even a neat little black leather crescent of a bag made from Bolt Thread’s Mycelium leather, it’s called Mylo.” - The New York Times. Oct. 2021

Mycelium packaging is growing, as seen at Heackles and non-alcoholic drink brand Seedlip. Forward thinking Architectural firms like Material Cultures are pioneering mycelium insulation materials, and we have cited mycelium building materials and lamps in previous Luminary Publications. Mushroom materials and mushroom dyes are getting some serious attention right now. To see more on the future of mushrooms in colour and materials, from our 280-page report The Future of Colour (as seen above & below), please contact us here.

We cannot focus on mushrooms without citing their magical properties. From ancient Nordic folklore, which depicts flying reindeer who eat fly Agaric red-spotted mushrooms, to psychedelic tales of shamanic mushroom journeys from indigenous communities around the world. Even Alice’s psychotropic adventures in Wonderland, are the focus of this current exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

“Curious Alice invites audiences to tumble down the rabbit hole and embark on a mind-bending trip into Wonderland through the playful dimension of virtual reality.” - V&A

The healing properties of psychedelic mushrooms have long since been lost or criminalised within the hippie trance dance culture. But in recent years mushroom experts like Paul Stamets and his brilliant Netflix movie Fantastic Fungi, are highlighting the healing power of mushrooms, they are being studied and trialled for mental health cures, cancer patients and more. From Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop team who experimented with magic mushrooms for her Netflix show, to the brilliant Nicole Kidman character in Amazon’s Nine Perfect Strangers – who attempts to use mushrooms to reconnect with her deceased daughter. Mushrooms simply keep popping right up!

So it is with great pleasure that the Luminary team got to visit the Mycota exhibit as part of London Design Festival. Created by the founders of The Mushroom Magazine, a biannual publication for anyone interested in fungi, from artists to herbalists, ecologists to engineers. The show offered us a multi-sensory immersion, exploring the materiality of mushrooms across design and craft. From scents to sounds, from pigment to medicine, the realm of fungi is as fascinating as its versatility. We have highlighted some of our favourite pieces from the exhibition below.

Mycota Exhibition

The colourful installation of silk scarves dyed with a range of fungi and poisonous mushrooms was created by The Scottish Fungi Dye Group. The female collective has been researching and experimenting with mushroom pigments for decades. Some of the colours created for this exhibit took years to collect, as the foragers are keen to protect the habitat and survival of their raw ingredients.

They used a range of fungi dyes to achieve the colourful pigments including Cortinarius Sanguineus caps (Reds); Phaoelus Schweinitzii + iron (Soft Green/Blue); Innonotus Hispidues + Iron (Khaki Greens); Phaeolus Schweinitzii (Yellow); Cortinatius Semisanguieus stalks (Peach); Innonotuus Hispidus (Gold); Hapilopilus nidulans + ammonia (Purples); Paxillus artomentosus + iron (Silver / Dark greys).

Myco Colour is a sustainable textile dyeing process created by Liene Kazaka, a recent graduate from MA Material Futures at UAL. By growing pigment-producing fungi directly on materials, the project achieves colour in a way that can nurture nature rather than destroying it. The blue elf cup fungi produces a turquoise pigment into the object it is growing on - a property that, in Lienes words, “holds a promise to completely eliminate the use of all chemicals in the textile dyeing process.”

Myco Colour is featured in our recent publication Luminary Issue 25 | Lightness. Please Contact Luminary for a viewing of the new book.

Myco Colour, Liene Kazaka

We could not believe our eyes when we saw the giant Reishi!! Otherwise known as Ganoderma lucidum, it’s one of the most famous and commonly used medicinal mushrooms. Grown by The Mushroom Tablea UK-based mushroom farm located in Essex that is run by brothers William and Matthew Rooney.

Giant Reishi, The Mushroom Table

Alongside the exhibition, the space offered insightful readings and resources about mushrooms and their properties, all beautifully displayed on a mycelium bench, crafted by BIOHM - a waste-led and regenerative company that makes building materials from mycelium. The Luminary team also highly recommends reading Entangled Life.

To find out more about the project and makers featured, you can access Mycota’s Reading List here.

Medicinal Mushrooms, Martin Powell | The Mushroom, Mycology Press | Fabulous Fungi Dyes, Scottish Fungi Dye Group


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