Danish designer Jonas Edvard Nielsen would have to be described as a truly avant-garde designer, who is willing to try out new ideas and concepts in product design. Having completed a Bachelor of Industrial Design in 2010 and a Masters in Product and Ceramic Design in 2013, Jonas Edvard’s focus is on innovation and thoughtfulness in the development and application of natural materials and design processes.
A perfect example of this is his MYX Lamp, which would have to be one of the more unusual but possibly the most sustainable pendant lights around. Recently sharing third place in the Stockholm Furniture Fair Green Furniture Award 2014, the MYX Lamp produces not only light but food (mushrooms) which can be eaten. Sounds crazy? Well, it’s true.
As part of his graduation project, Jonas Edvard set about developing an organic textile material he called MYX in which oyster mushroom mycelium grow on hemp fibres to become a flexible soft living textile. This is essentially what happens: “The lamp is grown into shape during a period of 2-3 weeks … After 2 weeks you can harvest the healthy Oyster mushrooms. The waste product ‘shaped as a lamp’ can then be dried and used as a lightweight material, that is both organic, compostable and sustainable.”
“The mushroom mycelium stabilizes the construction by physically growing together the material behaving as a glue between the fibres. The MYX consists of waste – the mushroom organism comes from a commercial mushroom farm and the plant fibre is a leftover material from the textile industry. MYX is an optimized end-waste product with a nutritious food product during the growing cycle.”
Who’d have thought?
Please introduce yourself – what’s your background and how have you ended up where you are today?
I have a Masters degree in Industrial Design from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design, Copenhagen, Denmark. Growing up in a natural reserve in the north of Denmark left an imprint into how the world is constructed, the forces of nature and the beauty.
Your MYX lamps must surely be one of the most sustainable lights around, especially as they were nominated for a Green Furniture award. Tell us about them: the concept behind them; and when and why did you begin exploring with mushroom-mycelium as a possible lighting material?
I started exploring with mushrooms as a child, collecting and searching for edibles such as Cantarelles, Portobellos and other mushrooms. But the actual project into mushrooms started in 2012 when I was looking for a possibility to grow food from waste. When looking for a way to recycle leftover material from the textile industry and breaking down colour and toxins in the clothing I figured out that the Oyster mushroom lives by breaking down cellulose and therefore was the perfect recycling method to recycle and breakdown leftover material such as wood, paper, cotton, viscose, etc.
Tell us about the importance for you of living and working using eco-friendly materials and processes?
It is very important that designers figure out how the next 50 years of production is going to look like, and therefore we are always challenged by new technologies, which can be tomorrow’s next big thing. The way to focus right now and in the future is to create solutions for a growing population, where food, clean water, local and natural resources are implemented in the production and invention of new industrial systems that can support a sustainable development with the use of the materials at hand.
Can you tell us about any new products you’re working on at the moment?
I am currently finishing work on a new project containing products and a new material developed from seaweed. Seaweed plays a vital role in the production of oxygen as the total amount released from the oceans exceeds 70 per cent of the total oxygen production of the planet. Seaweed is a nutritious food resource that can be harvested and produced in local waters cleaning the water from over-nutrition and pollution.
I have collaborated with Nikolaj Steenfatt on the project and we have developed a chair and lamps in the new seaweed material.
What would be your ideal design project or commission – or have you already done it? Explain
There is no fixed ideal project, but I consider everything I do the most ideal thing.
Who or what are some of your influences? What other artists, designers and creatives do you admire?
Fela Kuti, Werner Herzog and Rudolph Steiner.
What’s one thing other people may not know about you?
That I don’t like the combination of orange and chocolate.
My guilty pleasure is … Frank Drebin
The best thing about living in Denmark is …
Free healthcare, free education and seafood!
Have you ever had a ‘who’d have thought’ moment?
I guess so, but I’m going to keep that to myself.
Thanks Jonas and I can’t wait to see your seaweed furniture and lighting!