Jaina Roy wanted her newborn daughter to dream about mushrooms.
Unable to take her baby on a foraging trip, she decided to do the next best thing. It’s all about transforming your child’s room into a cottagecore haven with a mushroom theme. Roy designed the space to include more than a dozen mushroom-related items, including crib sheets colored with mushroom dye, a felt mushroom mobile, a mushroom-shaped stained glass ornament, and mushroom dresser knobs. I designed it. She is handmade by herself.
“Mushrooms are so adaptable and versatile. They evoke this sense of wonder in people, so we wanted to bring that into our homes,” says Metallica in Eddystone, Pennsylvania. said Roy, 31, who runs a design business. Foraging for mushrooms in nature provides a much-needed sense of mystery, like searching for mythical creatures. ”
Mushrooms are becoming increasingly prominent in almost every aspect of modern life. These days, food, drink, fashion, medicine, and interior design all embrace mushrooms. Experts attribute this trend to increasing collective knowledge about mushrooms. Even negative depictions of mushrooms in pop culture can sometimes be intriguing. Instead of avoiding parasitic fungal infections that turn people into zombies, as in the case of HBO’s The Last of Us series, some people avoid them after watching the show. Fans were looking for the best mushroom snacks to make for viewing parties.
In recent years, British clothing designer Stella McCartney debuted clothing made from mushroom skin, mushroom teas and elixirs began appearing in grocery stores, and psilocybin (or “magic mushroom”) therapy became popular. Still, I never get tired of it. We not only want mushrooms to eat and drink, wear and heal, but we also want them to sit, sleep, and decorate our homes. Simply put, there’s a demand (and probably supply) for all things mushroom-themed right now.
Mushroom-inspired interior design objects range from the luxury (craft lamps that sell for thousands) to the widely available ($18 cocktail glasses found on Amazon). Sometimes the objects themselves are related to fungi in a literal sense, such as furniture made from mushroom leather, while others more figuratively borrow abstract shapes and colors from fungi.
In recent years, a plethora of books and other media have been published exploring various aspects of mushrooms, turning more and more people into mushroom enthusiasts and fungi enthusiasts. Recent examples include anthropologist Anna Tsin’s book The Mushroom at the End of the World, which used matsutake as a lens to analyze capitalism. Biologist Merlin Sheldrake’s New York Times bestseller “Entangled Life.” The Netflix documentary “Fantastic Fungi” helped popularize the idea (the “stone monkey theory”) that primates may have evolved into humans with the help of psilocybin mushrooms. Electronic musician John Hopkins’ album “Music for Psychedelic Therapy.” The recently reprinted book A Mycological Foray by the late composer John Cage has become a coffee table favorite. And a little magazine called “Mushroom People.”
“Mushrooms are having a moment in many segments of society,” said Paul Stamets, one of the most prominent mycologists of recent times. He recently named his new species of magic mushroom after himself. And perhaps there is something inherently human that draws us to mushrooms because of their important role in the ecosystem. “Mushrooms are like the dividing line between life and death, and their sudden appearance is surprising, mysterious, arousing curiosity and inviting exploration,” Stamets said.
From signs of death to symbols of rebirth
Searches for mushroom gifts on Etsy have more than tripled over the past 12 months compared to the same period last year, according to data provided by Etsy. In particular, search interest is increasing for mushroom vases, wallpaper, candles, tables, etc.
The Museum of Modern Art design store has more than a dozen mushroom-shaped lamps, and these are some of its best-selling items, said Chai Costello, associate director of merchandising.
One of the most iconic mushroom-like modern art pieces is the Nesso lamp. Available in white or bright orange, this lamp looks like a dreamy, glowing mushroom. The piece was designed by Giancarlo Mattioli in 1964 and was soon added to MoMA’s collection, which Ms. Costello said embodies “the era’s enthusiasm for space-age shapes and materials.” Ta.
“Overall, there is a resurgence of interest in the designs of the 1960s and 1970s, perhaps driven by the similarities between the zeitgeist of those decades and our current era.” said Ms. Costello.
But our Western ancestors may have been perplexed by today’s mushroom mania. In 17th century England, fear of mushrooms was commonplace.
Because mushrooms are often found in the midst of death and decay, mushrooms were closely associated with the end of life and did not mean “peace with Mother Nature” as they do today. Also known as “the excrement of the earth,” fear of poisonous mushrooms became widespread.
At the time, there was a lack of scientific knowledge about mushrooms, making them a mystery with far-reaching effects. “Some mushrooms can nourish you, some can heal you, some can kill you, and some can take you on a spiritual journey,” Stamets said. Ta. “When you have something so powerful and ephemeral, it’s natural to fear the unknown.”
This attitude toward mushrooms has left Americans feeling uneasy for years. As recently as 2014, mushroom farmers spoke about the stigma they had to overcome at American farmers markets.
However, the last few years have shown significant changes. U.S. mushroom sales increased 16% in 2022 compared to 2013, according to data from the Mushroom Council, the fresh mushroom industry’s commodity committee.
The recent legalization of psilocybin in the United States has pushed the fungus even further to the forefront of culture. In 2020, Oregon became the first state to allow the therapeutic use of psilocybin. Last year, Colorado followed suit, legalizing it for personal use and for people 21 and older. Although psilocybin remains illegal at the federal level, several cities, including Seattle, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Oakland, California — have decriminalized it.
Asian cultural influences also played a large role in opening the United States to mushrooms. In East Asian countries, including China and Japan, mushrooms are more highly valued and are often seen as symbols of rebirth and renewal. Reishi mushrooms, also known as the “mushroom of immortality,” have been revered for thousands of years in East Asian cultures for their health benefits. You can now order a Reishi Cappuccino at Los Angeles’ trendy health food store Erewhon.
Psychedelic experience without drugs
Suddenly, Americans seem to be making up for lost time with mushrooms.
It’s well documented that the pandemic lockdown has made more people interested in interior design and the importance of the home as a space that reflects one’s tastes and desires. That, combined with a growing love affair with mushrooms, has led people to fill their kitchens, bedrooms, office rooms, and even bathrooms with mushroom-inspired trinkets and furniture.
Arshi Kapoor, a 26-year-old art dealer, wanted one of the bathrooms in her Los Angeles home to be a place where she could express her love of fungi.
“We are experts in psychedelic and non-psychedelic mushrooms. We love cooking with mushrooms and experiment with different types,” Ms. Kapur said. “They have a sense of mystery, but they’re also very down-to-earth and earthy, giving us the best of both worlds.”
In Ms. Kapoor’s bathroom, Matthew Ryan Hargett’s photos of mushrooms hang on the wall, and there are bongs with glass mushrooms at the bottom, shaped like mushroom hats by designer Tom Dixon. There are light fixtures that look like fungi coming out of the ceiling. , a psychedelic light that projects dynamic, colorful beams of light onto walls and other small mushroom props.
“The whole idea of the bathroom is to provide a psychedelic experience without actually inhaling psychedelic substances,” Ms. Kapur said.
Retailers and brands are also noticing this growing obsession.
In 2021, millennial beauty brand Glossier opened a store in Seattle. The centerpiece of the store is an Instagram-worthy moss-covered sculpture with colorful mushrooms growing on it. This winter, the Standard Hotel in New York’s East Village opened a whimsical outdoor dining garden complete with an oversized mushroom sculpture (the prix-fixe dinner menu features several dishes, including mushroom ragu lasagna and mushroom chili frito pie). There are fungi options).
For those making mushroom goods, part of the appeal is that the common mushroom shape we all know – a column with a soft-edged cap – lends itself to a variety of designs. It’s simple but symbolic.
Tessa Gorin, a 28-year-old actress who lives in Manhattan, checked the stimulation at a pottery class and found that mushrooms are an easy shape to imitate. She created a mushroom-shaped candlestick that ended up being featured in Lower East Side home goods store Coming Soon.
In 2017, budding furniture designer Nicolas Bijan-Prouffard began creating hand-thrown mushroom-shaped lamps with a ball-jointed design that allowed the shade to be tilted to direct the light the way he wanted. Since then, he has sold hundreds of lamps and now carries them on luxury e-commerce site Ssense. “Creating a mushroom lamp wasn’t my initial intention when I put pen to paper, but once I realized how it started to look, my brain moved further towards its shapes and forms. I just kept going,” Prufer said. , 31, based in San Diego.
Evan Collins, co-founder of the Consumer Aesthetics Research Institute, argues that the mushroom decoration boom is a counter to the minimalism that dominated the 2010s. “There’s a renewed interest in the really playful, the surreal, and the weird. The 2010s, on the other hand, were all about muted, muted colors like millennial pink,” Collins he said.
The future is fungi
Mushrooms also represent the possibility of a more sustainable future.
MoMA has a mycelium brick in its collection whose description reads: “When used as building blocks, the resulting mycelial bricks create structures that temporarily bypass the natural carbon cycle, producing architecture that grows solely from soil and returns to nothingness.” But the Earth… No waste, no energy, no carbon emissions. (Like plant roots, mycelium is a filamentous network that feeds fungi, usually underground.)
Last year, furniture retailer Ligne Roset announced a partnership with biotech company MycoWorks to launch a mycelium-based furniture range.
Researchers at Penn State University are working to develop a material called “MycoKnit” for architectural structures. This material has a knitted textile base on which a mycelium composite material grows. MycoKnit is alive in a very real sense. Eventually, visible mushrooms will sprout from it.
A research team including Felecia Davis, Benei Garsoy, Ali Gazbinian, Farzaneh Oghadian, John Pecchia and Andre West is currently working on building a full-scale pavilion using MycoKnit in Melbourne this summer.
Ms Davis, an associate professor of architecture, said she hoped the research would help people better understand relationships between species. “We live with this species that has a life of its own and that we use in the design of buildings and objects,” she said. “Who are we building with? How can we reimagine mycelium?”