Sustainability, durability and top quality are becoming increasingly important for office furniture. To replace petroleum-based upholstery and cover fabrics with renewable materials in future, Wilkhahn’s involved in basic research on upholstery materials made of a fungus with thread-like cells. Called mycelium, this fungus has an excellent ecological footprint, is non toxic and consumes neither water nor energy while growing. What’s more, it’s fully compostable. The 2022 Floriade horticultural exhibition in Almere, the Netherlands, is currently displaying Wilkhahn chairs that are upholstered with this ecological fungus.
Wilkhahn has been advocating for ecological change in the office furniture industry for over 30 years. Consequently, it places emphasis on a circular economy when it develops its high-quality seating and tables. To make increasingly more sustainable products, basic research into new materials is top of the agenda. Which is why Wilkhahn has joined forces with Airbus in Hamburg and Munich and a start-up called Mycelium Materials Europe to collaborate on the Sustainable Upholstered Furniture research project.
Ecological covers and foam made of fungus
The research project, initiated in the Dutch foundation SIGN’s Livinglab Bleiswijjk, is sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. SIGN projects are all about using garden waste and organic waste to produce mycelium for diverse applications. Mycelium is a fungus with thread-like cells that form the fast-growing root-like structures under the soil. It’s for producing covers and upholstery materials. Materials made from mycelium are biodegradable and virtually no carbon emissions are produced in the process. Its low weight, superior sound absorbency, flame retardancy, good insulation and anti-bacterial properties are further advantages.
Mycelium furniture at the Floriade Expo 2022
First of all, basic research involved testing the mycelium textiles and comparing them with other renewable upholstery materials. The second project phase looked at potential production models for reconditioning furniture upholstery with mycelium and production of upholstery made of fungus cells.
The third step concerned upcycling pre-owned Wilkhahn chairs by upholstering them with the innovative new material. The upshot of the research project is currently on show at the 2022 Floriade Expo on the second floor of the Natural Pavilion and in the Tiny House, plot 80. The Floriade Expo is an international horticultural exhibition that takes place every ten years since it was founded in 1960.
This year, the town of Almere, near Amsterdam, is inviting visitors to come to an exhibition called Growing Green Cities, which was designed by well-known Dutch architectural firm MVRDV. For six months and over an area of about 60 hectares, solutions illustrate how life in cities, particularly in an era of climate change, can be greener and more enjoyable. This interesting exhibition is on daily until 9 October. Tickets can be purchased online or at the exhibition.
Wilkhahn is showcasing further sustainable furniture solutions in the Green House at the Floriade 2022 Expo. For instance, its new Yonda chair, whose shell is made of biocomposite and its modular Versa conference table. To find out more, click here.
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