While traditional wood and velvet-lined caskets can take more than a decade to decompose in the earth, a new design by Bob Hendrikx is an environmentally friendly alternative that replenishes the soil. Breaking down in just two to three years, “The Living Cocoon” is composed entirely of mycelium, the thread-like part of the fungi that branches out underground to provide food to the rest of the organism. The decomposed coffins actually contribute to the soil health by neutralizing toxic substances and providing nutrition. Mycelium is “constantly looking for waste materials to convert into nutrients for the environment…For example, mycelium was used in Chernobyl, is utilized in Rotterdam to clean up soil, and some farmers also apply it to make the land healthy again,” Hendrikx says.
Generated without light, heat, or any sort of active energy source, the coffins are grown in one week by mixing a strain of mycelium and a substrate together and placing the combination in a mold. The fungi then absorbs the other substance and forms the box-like shape. Research by two funeral cooperatives, CUVO and De Laatste Eer, already shows that “The Living Cocoon” decomposes in soil within 30 to 45 days, and the design was used in a burial in recent weeks. “We are currently living in nature’s graveyard. Our behaviour is not only parasitic, it’s also short-sighted. We are degrading organisms into dead, polluting materials, but what if we kept them alive?” Hendrikx says.
A researcher at Delft University of Technology, Hendrikx designed a similar living pod last year for Dutch Design Week, which spurred the idea to create another vessel from mycelium. He’s working currently to implement light-emitting spores, which could serve as an above-ground marker of where a body is buried. To follow Hendrikx’s environmentally conscious designs, head to Instagram and YouTube. You also might enjoy this living pavilion made of agricultural waste and sprawling mushrooms. (via Dezeen)
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When Ava Roth adds the last stitch grasping horsehair or porcupine quills to her embroidered artworks, she passes the fibrous material on to her black-and-yellow counterparts. The Toronto-based artist collaborates with bees to encase her mixed-media pieces in waxy honeycomb. What emerges are organic artworks that consider interspecies interactions and the beauty that such meetings can garner.
Since 2019, Roth has been expanding the wooden frames of her works to twice the size as previous projects. She receives help from master beekeeper Mylee Nordin, and together, they vertically stack hive boxes, which are known as supers, and insert large, custom-made structures. The artist also has developed a more detailed practice in recent months. “Because this project has required so much trial and error, I was still experimenting with materials last season, trying to find substances that the bees would consistently respond to positively,” she writes. “I was trying to find organic substances that would not harm the bees but also that the bees would not eat or otherwise destroy.”
When the bees finished wax production in late October, Roth says her understanding of the species and confidence in her choice of raw matter had grown. “I spent the winter weaving and embroidering beeswax, porcupine quills, horsehair, and other organic material into embroidery hoops, and then fixing them onto my new custom made frames,” she notes.
Roth’s projects also have a sense of urgency through their connection to Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon that’s killing colonies and threatening the species’ population. “Honeybees are often considered a harbinger of the health of our planet, and CCD is interpreted by many environmentalists and scientists as a clear indicator of our current environmental crisis,” the artist says.
I consider the bees to be my co-workers, collaborators in every sense. I take cues from their needs, design the project around their capacities, and work in sync with their seasons. Ultimately, this art that we make together is essentially hopeful at a time when we are overwhelmed with despair at the state of the environment, and our role in its destruction.
During the winter, Roth plans to refine her project further after reflecting on another season of interspecies collaboration. Follow the latest updates on her encaustic works on Instagram.
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Field Notes Launches New Collection of Letterpress Notebooks Designed by Nine Printers Across the U.S.
For its latest limited edition series, Field Notes tasked nine letterpress shops with capturing the diverse perspectives and histories of the nation through a pocket-sized design. United States of Letterpress is a pastel collection of memo notebooks featuring renderings of small storefronts, geometric patterns, and various slogans, including nods to the upcoming presidential election. Each holds 48 pages of graph paper.
To coincide with the launch, the Chicago-based notebook manufacturer filmed a short documentary, directed by Steve Delahoyde, capturing the processes and history of the art form. The printers involved—which includes Genghis Kern, Full-Circle Press, Mama’s Sauce, Brad Vetter, Springtide Press, Ben Blount, Erin Beckloff, Rick Griffith, and Starshaped Press—speak to the generosity of the printing community, the challenges of the medium, and the endurance of traditional type and equipment. They also details the tactile process of designing and creating their contributions.
For the special collection, Field Notes sent the independent printers cover paper in a different color and asked them to use the same two inks, Rhubine Red and Process Blue. Employing a variety of vintage metal, wood type, laser cutting, and photopolymer plates, some producers submitted two designs, which were added at random into the packs. “There is so much history and tradition in each hand-printed piece, and we wanted to honor that while also showcasing the phenomenal work that modern practitioners of the craft are producing,” co-founder Jim Coudal said.
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An understated bamboo canopy situated among the verdant landscape of the Karst Mountains in Yangshuo, China, offers respite from the sun and frequent rainfall that blankets the area. Designed by Lllab. Architects for the outdoor theatrical performance of Impression Sanjie Liu, the curved structure merges seamlessly with the surrounding environment. Bamboo trees line the pathway the canopy occupies as it stretches across 140 meters.
Smaller lanterns are positioned at the entrance to the venue before the larger structure guides visitors to the main performance stage, which sits at the bank of the Li River. The canopy is hand-woven by local craftspeople, who utilize a specific technique that allows the suble form to be made entirely of the organic material without the use of glue or nails. Inside the permeable walls are load-bearing posts.
In a statement about the surging form, Lllab. notes that the architecture mimics the performers’ movements:
The hand weaving, bamboo playing off the tension of one another. The topography of the canopy ceiling dancing between columns of bamboo as if unsupported. Even the way guests are intended to move from lantern to lantern, in a narrative of interaction. Together these subtle hints encourage a particular frame of mind, readying the guest for the main feature.
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A new DIY kit transforms any ordinary houseplant into a miniature haven complete with mood lighting. Created by Australia-based British designer Lars Wijers, Tiny Treehouses feature multiple configurations, from an ornate gazebo to a multi-roofed structure resembling tropical architecture. Each is equipped with LED lights (batteries included!) and manufactured to hang from a branch or rest on a flat surface.
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In 2017, artist Chris Fox utilized decades-old wooden escalators to create a sculptural ribbon above Sydney’s Wynyard Station. His latest project titled “Interchange Pavilion” similarly repurposes vintage railway tracks to construct a 350-square-meter outdoor pavilion. The work is comprised of 250 meters of stainless-steel rails, 15 tons of glass-reinforced concrete, and 1,400 pieces of hardwood. Built in sections, the rails in “Interchange Pavilion” offer several paths upward, where they converge at a central point.
If you’re in Sydney, check out the newly-opened public artwork, which was unveiled August 25. Otherwise, find more from Fox on Instagram.
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