3D printed chair of organic waste

In search for unexplored connections between materials, production methods, makers and users.

Studio Eric Klarenbeek connects creatives, designers, architects and local crafts. Their aim is to search for new meaning and principles in technology, resources, objects and spaces, for unexplored connections between materials, production methods, makers and users.

As part of the FUNGAL FUTURES investigation, Studio Eric Klarenbeek—in cooperation with scientists, makers and 3D printing manufacturers—developed a fully automated production method for 3D printing living mycelium. Mycelium is used as a binder for organic waste, a potential infinite and environmentally friendly living glue, to create and replace products which are currently made out of plastics, wood, etc.

Implementing growth as part of the studio’s production processes and using local raw plant material combined with living matter, enabled the studio to identify possibilities for local, renewable and circular production and to reflect on a radical new view regarding decentralised manufacturing. This allows the creation of products with a negative CO2 footprint.

As a society we are currently imprisoned in a chain of waste, both in material fabrication as well as in regard to the negative effects on our surroundings, due to transportation of raw materials and goods. 3D printing seems to partly provide a solution, since it allows producing locally, by connecting nearby ‘Makers’ through rapidly growing web portals (e.g. 3D hubs). However, the main obstacle to overcome lies in the applied materials. Even for 3D printing there are little sustainable alternatives available. Resources, both natural and synthetic, are transported worldwide and the greenest variants (e.g. bioplastics) can increase pressure on agriculture and food production and are partly deriving from genetically modified sources.

Printing mycelium triggers the opposite effect: the plant material produces oxygen during its lifecycle and it eliminates the necessity of heating materials in the printing process, thus reducing the use of energy. Instead of wasting less, the studio’s work strives to absorb emissions, and when the product reaches the end of its cycle it’s fully compostable and it can be disposed without harming the environment; on the contrary, it will fertilise its surroundings.