MycoTEX proof-of-concept

The world is dynamic. However our textiles are not. They have been with us all our lifetime, but they do not seem to have changed much. In fact, we actually require them to remain exactly the same for as long as possible. Nowadays our consumption rate is ever increasing and, as part of such disposable culture, we hardly repair anything. Aniela aims to change the way we use textiles. By altering or adding properties to textile, she is investigating how we can and will use textiles in the future and what the related implications will be.

The initial purpose of MycoTEX was to create a textile out of living material and to learn how to develop a real garment out of it.

So far mycelium (the root of a mushroom) has been predominantly used in a solid state in combination with a substrate. Therefore Aniela started by combining mycelium (and its peculiar properties) with textiles, in order to create flexible composite products. Learning whilst researching, her goal turned into developing textiles consisting exclusively of pure mycelium. Along the research process, Aniela developed a method for retaining flexibility without using traditional textile materials.

Aniela’s inspiration comes from the observation of “soft bodies” species. Such organisms grow by replicating themselves over and over again, following some sort of modular pattern. This observation inspired Aniela to build the textile out of modules, a solution which consequently provided a number of important benefits. In fact, in such way repair and replacement of the garment are easy to perform and and do not interfere with the look of the fabric. Furthermore, the garment can be built three-dimensionally and shaped whilst being made, fitting the wearer’s wishes. Thus, it is possible to create mycelium patterns, to adjust the length of the garment or for example to add elements (e.g. sleeves). This allows growth of just the right amount of needed material, eliminating every potential leftover/waste during the making process.

Her explorations resulted in a fungi dress, which can be adjusted to adapt to fashion, and can also be repaired when needed. Once the garment is not in use anymore, it can easily be composted. In this way, it is possible to completely re-think future possibilities for fashion items.

Why do we still make clothes that last for 40 years, if we only wear them for 1 or 2 years?

MycoTEX shows a new way of producing textile and clothing. Because we grow textile, we can skip spinning yarns and weaving cloth. The clothing is directly pasted and shaped onto the mold. In addition, this fabric has the potential of extra features like skin nurturing or (natural) anti-microbial properties. This environment friendly textile needs very little water for growing and chemicals are unnecessary. And since 40% of all textiles produced are not sold, but ended up in landfills, MycoTEX also ensures a reduction of this waste. This fabric is not only 100% biodegradable, but can also serve as a breeding ground for other plants when you put it in the ground; mimicking our biological life cycle.

This dress has been acquired by the Universiteitsmuseum Utrecht and was part of Fungal Futures.
The MycoTEX project has reached the next stage with prototypes.

With thanks to

Universiteit Utrecht afdeling Microbiologylogo_officina_corpuscoli_2014 Mediamatic nwo  stw