Mycelium: Regenerative Switch Plate

Designed by Ella Weinstein, Burak Eceral, and Walker Mahany for Healthy Materials Competition 2022

What is Mycelium?

Mycelium is a root-like structure of a fungus derived from mushrooms. This alternative material is very strong, light, and fire resistant naturally. Mycelium is “natural, toxin free, and compostable” (Jacewicz). It grows at room temperature and in the dark, meaning it does not have a high energy demand. Mycelium grows very quickly, only in a matter of weeks, and feeds off of other biomaterials such as sawdust, wood chips, cardboard, cow dung, and so much more.

Why Mycelium?

Production of home goods leads to the deterioration of people's physical and mental health. The furniture industry uses materials such as adhesives, finishes, and chemical treatments that are often toxic for human health and can cause negative health outcomes such as fertility issues and cancer.To create unhealthy pieces of furniture, the industry uses problematic processes that cause significant environmental harm such as flooding and deforestation. Mycelium is a great alternative to current problematic materials used in the home goods industry.


Designers Working with Mycelium

Phil Ross                                    Ecovative and BioMason

Danielle Trofe, Mushlume Hemi Pendants and Grow Table Lamp

Why a Switch Plate?

We created a light socket cover made out of mycelium to replace traditional plastic ones. Taking advantage of mycelium's fire resistant and insulating qualities, we can create a circular, regenerative alternative.

First Experimentation

For the first experiments, we worked with cardboard, oyster mushrooms, and king oyster mushrooms. In these cake pans, we altered the thickness of cardboard to see how aeration affected the grow and the use of alcohol for sterilization. These grew for 3 weeks and then fired them at 170 degrees for 2.5 hours.

1/8in Cardboard, King Oyster: Successful, Growth Throughout

1/8in Cardboard, King Oyster, Alcohol: No Growth

1/8in Cardboard and 1/2in Cardboard, King Oyster, Alcohol: Mold Growth

1/8in Cardboard, Oyster: Successful, Mild Growth

Second Experimentations

For the second experiments, we worked with saw dust, corn, and king oyster mushrooms. We altered the amount of mushrooms in each batch of saw dust and experimented with corn kernels as a base.These grew for 1 week and we did not fire them as we reused the uncolonized sawdust.

Sawdust, Many King Oyster: Growth

Sawdust, Few King Oyster: No Growth

Corn Kernels, King Oyster: No Growth

Mold Making

To make the switch board mold, we used an existing switch board and taped a flexible aluminum around the edges to give depth.


Material Sourcing

In these experiments, we tried to be as sustainably minded as possibly in our materials sourcing. The sawdust was allocated from the wood shops at The New School. The cardboard was reused from boxes. The cake pans are kitchen good we either already had or will continue to use.We purchased the switch plate from a local hardware store and the flexible metal from the Blick. We purchased the oyster mushrooms from the local Union Square Farmers market and from Whole Foods. The liquid cultures were sourced from the online. We aimed to get materials locally to minimize transportation emissions.


We chose to create a light socket and lamp shade as they are objects that are both needed for lighting.Doing more than one object exhibits the endless possibilities for mycelium. It demonstrates how mycelium can be incorporated singular objects, but also into systems of objects.

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