February 24, 2023
Behind the scenes with the creators of mycelium leather.
Demonstration display for the team at Mycoworks.
I connected with Phil Ross and Lindsey Filowitz of Mycoworks during the pandemic as I had been eagerly following their development of mycelium leather. In fact, I knew of Phil's work from back in the day when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the 90's Phil began using reishi mycelium as a medium for his sculptures and is a pioneer in cultivating living materials for art and design.
We chatted about how colorants and pigments from mushrooms could be used as a potential dye for the mycelium leather. Curious about how the leather would respond we did some research and kept in contact which lead to the opportunity for me to meet with the team. During the meeting we extracted pigment from Echinodontium tinctorium (commonly known as Paint Fungus) and used a Tremella species mushroom that Phil brought in as our binder to make paint.
We talked a lot about the different pigment compounds and colorants along with the process involved in extracting and coaxing colors from mushrooms. We all left the meeting excited and eager to find a way to grow colorant at scale and imbue the mycelium leather with a truly renewable, ecologically sensitive and sustainable approach that would ultimately decompose back into the environment.