In order to create an upper part for the shoe that was not only attractive but durable and, most importantly, zero waste, Kristel Peters’ research led her to Mycelium. Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus that consists of branching, thread-looking hyphae. Think of the little hairs that grow on mold.
Mycelium feeds on organic waste, such as sawdust. When it does, the organic waste is broken down and adhered to the fungus, which in turn converts it into a strong natural polymer that can be molded into different shapes. The result is a strong, durable, elastic and water repellent material that is also organic and harmless to nature after use.
But growing materials, is that even possible? As Kristel Peters mentions, “We are breeding animals for their meat but also for their skins, so growing materials is somehow not new for human kind, we have always been doing it. But what if we would bio fabricate our uppers out of Mycelium? How would that work? Can I, as designer lead this process and shape it into shoes? And can it be even as desirable as leather shoes?’