UK company experiments with fungus furniture

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LONDON (CBS) A furniture company in London has taken a novel approach to creating its latest items. Designers are combining wood with fungus to cut down on waste.

When it comes to assembling furniture, an instruction manual usually comes in pretty handy, but not for this kind.
A designer in London is growing his latest furniture line from fungus, and showing it off at this design show.

Sebastian Cox says it's easy --- once you create the right conditions. "It's fairly basic if you use a nice clean environment, you wear gloves, and use ethanol to keep the air clean, then it's pretty simple. People could do it in their own homes.

In their workshop, Sebastian and his team mix mycelium, the vegetative part of the fungus, with wood chips. They then add it to a mould and wait for it to take shape.

"There is very little human labor involved. We set the process, then we observe the growth," said Ninella Ivanova, a fungus designer.

The fungal furniture is getting some mixed reactions from potential customers.

"I'd have the lamp shades actually -- they're nice. I need a good lampshade," said one shopper.

"Have this funny thing about fungus, it's got a bit of the 'yuk' factor to it," said another observer.

The company will launch sales in the coming weeks and is convinced people will open their homes to the eco-friendly furniture.

"Most people want to touch it, and there's a level of curiosity -- they can't hold back. Some people touch it a bit like this," Cox demonstrated. "Some people go straight in and give it a stroke."

It took 18 months to create these items. In the next batch, designers plan to grow tables and chairs.

The London designers aren't the first to use fungus in unconventional ways. Some U.S. companies are already growing clothes and building materials.