A third of the food produced in the world today goes to waste. There are several causes, one of which is the culling of perfectly edible and nutritious food in order to meet high industry and consumer standards of size, color, weight and blemish level. According to a recent report, up to 40% of fruit and vegetable crops in Britain don’t make it to store shelves because they are deemed too ‘ugly’. Our obsession with appearance is manifesting in our eating habits – and like fashion and cosmetics, industrial production is engineering our food to be artificially ‘perfect’ and bland, rather than naturally rich in look and taste.
A Fine Line is a dining set – half of it has been mass produced, finely cut and given a sleek finish. The other half grew organically from a mix of mushroom mycelium and wood waste, the texture and colour of the resulting structure being nature’s design. The line between industry and nature crosses between them – and on our plates.
How I Got Here
I first heard about all this at a no credit Biomaterials weekly workshop over the fall semester, which SVA had offered to students at its Nature and Technologies lab, taught by Oliver Medvedik from Genspace.
We also experimented in class with growing and drying scoby and cultivating glowing and colourful bacteria that can be painted with – but what really won me over was the fungus forms. It just so happened that my class had also been presented with an opportunity to make individual art about food for an exhibition and work with Kevin O’Callaghan, and I immediately realised I wanted to make some form of a marriage here. As I was looking at mycoform examples and admiring the organic and rich texture and feel, it became clear to me what I wanted to say about food aesthetics and engineering and how I wanted to say it through the metaphor of ready made versus organically grown furniture. I figured I would use the time at the lab to grow the organic, mycelial part, and time at the woodshop to prepare the ready made part of the piece.
The basic idea is this – mycelium can digest a lot of things, anything with cellulose really. When the mycelium digests the cellulose, it forms a white spongy matrix of material called Chiton. This process can pretty much continue as long as the mycelia has something to feed on and moisture, and it will take the shape of any container it is places in for the period of growth. To end the process, the structure needs to be dried out at around 180 degrees which kills the fungus.
About Liora Yuklea
Liora Yuklea is a 32 year old graphic designer from Israel, now living in New York. She is a graduate of the Visual Communications Department at the Holon Institute of Technology’s School of Design and a 2015 MFA Design for Social Innovation candidate at the School of Visual arts. She has worked as a graphic designer at the Ha’aretz daily newspaper and Calcalist, the leading financial newspaper in Israel. She has also designed independently for the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, the Affordable Housing Leadership Program by the JDC-Israel and the Ministry of Construction and Housing, the Social Guard civilian government monitoring organization and the J14 Israeli social justice movement with whom she has also been an activist since 2011, participating in the development of non-hierarchical decision making processes and creative activism. She has travelled all over Central and South America, India, Europe and the United States. She discovered the DSI program while searching for new opportunities to apply her design abilities to her making-the-world-a-better-place agenda, and for ways to better combine the two into a career and a sustainable way of life. Her website here: http://liogadesign.com/.