Nobody is better proof of the shift than Danielle Trofe—a Brooklyn-based designer whose line of GIY (grow-it-yourself) lamps made of mushroom and hemp, Mushlume, kick-starts this week. With the help of Ecovative, a manufacturer of a lab-altered, renewable mushroom material that can withstand extreme temperatures, she's crafted a living lighting that can actually be returned to the earth once it runs its course. Believe it or not, under the right conditions mushroom fungi can actually be turned into a strong, sustainable building material. Shaping it into items like furniture and fashion doesn't require additional electricity, heat, or water, since it essentially does the growing and molding for you. Forward-thinking design capital of the world Copenhagen has even dedicated an entire museum exhibit to fungi's seemingly limitless potential.
When Trofe first came across Ecovative's mushroom material, which has also been used as a replacement for those notoriously bad-for-the-planet Styrofoam packing peanuts, she experienced an epiphany of sorts.
"It shifted my perspective and really made me look at the full life cycle of a product to try to understand the safety and the materiality of what things are made of," she says. "The hands-on experience of working with the material and moving away from 3-D modeling on a computer formed this deeper connection between me and my work."
Now, Trofe is back in school for a master's in biomimicry to add to her design pedigree. She is optimistic that her line of clean, simple, of-the-earth lampshades will inspire the masses to become interested in pushing the boundaries of home design too.
"Being able to slowly bring natural elements into your home—especially ones that are living or were living—is essential in continuing to have that relationship with the planet and the resources on it. It's really the visualization of how we can start to use material that's a little more sustainable and fits in a little bit better on the planet."