Designing Shiro- A Stool Created with Mushroom Materials

Featured image
Shiro is an appealing stool, designed with the innovative Mushroom Material in mind. It is the outcome of a research and design process, which questioned the integration of a new material in furniture design. A material that uses the growing process of mushrooms to create new products. It sounds like an absurd idea, but the principle is simple yet clever: by bringing agricultural waste together with mycelium (the substance in the fungus out of which mushrooms emerge), a natural reaction takes place. The mycelium starts growing and will act as a glue that bonds all the particles together. When the growing is completed, the material is dried to extract all the water and make the part stronger. The result is a 100% natural and biodegradable product.
Featured image
This bachelor project at Howest (Belgium) explores the properties of this innovative material in several tests and transfers the conclusions in the design of a stool. One of the design-changers is the discovery of using a wooden insert to improve strength. This conclusion was deducted from a material testing phase where six samples were produced with different thicknesses and shapes of the insert. An ideation process followed and delivered four concepts, from which one was chosen for further development.
Featured image
Featured image
The outcome is a stool that is a perfect marriage of old craftsmanship and clever microbiology. By combining sturdy wooden legs with an ergonomically moulded seat, the properties of both materials are used at its fullest. The solid wooden structure is designed to absorb all the forces, while the mushroom seat is moulded to improve comfort. This moulding process is not only completely natural, it also doesn’t have any waste material and because production steps are reduced, the process is cheaper than conventional methods. The combination of natural materials creates a good-looking contrast which fits in a wide range of interiors.
With sustainability and efficiency being two key values in this creative process, this stool is designed for flat packaging. By decrease the unused volume in the package, the ecologic and economic impact of transport is reduced. To make this way of packaging a success, self-assembly by the end consumer is preferred. The stool is designed to make the assembly very obvious. The slots in the front leg easily slide in the slots in the back leg. Next, the top plate is fixed with screws to the legs. The last step consists of securing the seat, which has a moulded insert inside, to the top plate with three more screws.
Featured image
The outcome of this design process is an appealing stool that is designed with the innovative Mushroom Material as a key element. By bringing agricultural waste and mushrooms roots together in a mould, a natural process takes off. In 5 days, this grows into a finished seat. Shiro combines this wonderful piece of microbiology with sturdy wooden legs. The result is a stool with a solid structure and cushy seat that is easy to assemble and efficient to transport. Shiro demonstrates the potential of this material in furniture design and can be a solid base for further improvement.
Featured image
– Leon Van der Veken
Industrial Product Designer

Interested in Becoming an Ecovator?

Are you interested in joining Ecovative’s dynamic, fun, and motivated team?

Featured image

If you haven’t had a chance to check out our Careers page lately, you should make your way over there right now to see what roles we’re currently hiring for (it’s about 4 positions right now!).

Since we are actively hiring, we figured it was a good time to provide some insight into our hiring process. I sat down with our HR manager, Audry Herbig, to get an idea of what we look for in a candidate and how the interview process works:

MJ: What would you say are the core characteristics of an Ecovator?

AH: The characteristics that we have identified are ‘wildly impassioned, personal resilience and adaptive to change, creativity, team player, curiosity, and personal discipline.’ We found after observing employees that were high performers across all departments, that these were common in people who tend to do well at Ecovative.

MJ: What positions are we currently hiring for, and what jobs are on the horizon?

AH: The current positions can be found on our careers page. There’s nothing concrete at this time for future positions, but I can imagine we’ll have a need for more people on our production team to help scale our 2nd facility and our engineered wood product. The candidates for these types of positions would ideally have a familiarity with presses and wood working equipment. We potentially could hire more support surrounding the tech development side of our engineered wood product, as well as looking at market facing/ sales positions for this product.

MJ: What do you look for in a candidate?

AH: Generally speaking, someone that takes initiative to explore their area of experience or expertise. Someone that has practical, hands-on experience and isn’t afraid of hard work. A lot of the time we’re looking for someone that gets really excited about what we do. It’s not a requirement, but Ecovative is a unique and often challenging place. If you can be excited about why you’re here and remember the big picture of what we’re working towards, you’ll likely just be happier as an employee, and more productive because of that.

MJ: What hobbies or extracurricular activities stand out to you?

AH: Naturally people who enjoy being outdoors and spending time in nature tend to fit well with Ecovative. We’ve found that these employees have an appreciation for our goal and tend to align with our mission of producing healthy and sustainable materials. More specifically, some people at Ecovative are really into mycology– they’ve experimented with growing their own mushrooms or go on mushroom walks in their free time. For our engineers in particular, we like to see that they enjoy building things- maybe being on the robotics team or even making the cabinets for their kitchen. Someone who enjoys creating. Having hobbies in general is a good sign that you like to stay busy, take an active approach to your interest, and that you want to further develop yourself and learn more about areas you’re excited about.

MJ: What can someone expect when they come in for an interview at Ecovative?

AH: They can expect that we’re going to be friendly and laid back, like we always are. And that we’re going to test their knowledge. There will be a number of people from the organization attending the interview because all of our roles are so collaborative, and the employee will be working with many different projects and teams. It is almost a never one-on-one interview, and the interviewers are going to do their best to make sure you have the skills and mindset to succeed in the role. They may ask you some unique questions, but we’re always looking to find out if you have the skills needed for the job. And you should expect to have plenty of time to ask any questions you may have- what it’s like to be here, about our products, etc. Where we’re different than a lot of places is that we really just want to know that you can do the job and that you really want to do the job. There’s no perfect resume or hobby or interview answer.

MJ: We’ve had a number of employees that have relocated to work for Ecovative. Can you say anything about that?

AH: We’ve had many employees who didn’t live in New York or even in the Northeast region when they accepted positions here. We’re thrilled and flattered that people want to work at Ecovative so much that they would be willing to do that. Generally people find that the Capital Region is a great spot to live- you’re close to New York City, Boston, and the Adirondacks. This location provides quite the experience and combination of places to visit, which many people find appealing.

If you have a background in science, manufacturing, or engineering and don’t see a job posting that currently fits, we are always accepting applications.

Check the Careers page to access the application and see up to date positions!