Dining, design, and construction: Mushrooms are taking over startupland

Startups can’t get enough of our fungal friend.


August 18, 2020

Do your peeps keep telling you they “know a guy” who’s growing mushrooms in quarantine?

Hold your side-eye. They might be buying from Smallhold, an organic farm that pivoted to delivering grow-your-own shroom kits when the pandemic hit.

There’s no magic here — but it’s just one example of how mushroom-inspired businesses are sprouting up everywhere.

The fleshy foodstuff is a hot commodity 

Especially when it comes to sustainability:

  • One biomatter business, Ecovative, is using material from mushroom roots — called mycelium — to build dining chairs and desk lamps.
  • Ecovative makes mycelium packaging that looks and feels a bit like Styrofoam — but it decomposes in 30 days, compared to Styrofoam’s 500+ years.
  • Vogue thinks products like mushroom-based makeup sponges could fix fashion’s plastic-waste problem.

Chicken of the woods is about to be the chicken of your fridge

Ecovative is turning the specialty shroom variety into a replacement for bacon.

According to the company, on a structural level, chicken of the woods actually looks a bit… beefy.

Another rival, Meati Foods, is grilling shroomy steaks — perhaps hoping they’re juicy enough to topple the likes of Impossible Foods.

No industry is safe from the mushroom madness 

All these new, hypermodernist buildings are starting to look trippy. Maybe that’s because the construction biz is totally high on mycelium-based cement as an environmentally friendly alternative to concrete.

An architecture firm called The Living built a circular “organic mycelium tower” for New York’s Museum of Modern Art a few years back, and more buildings might be on the way.

Plus, you can say goodbye to smoke alarms: Flats fashioned from fungi are fire-resistant.

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