mari koppanen’s furniture series imitates polypore fungi in different growth stages

FOMES furniture collection by Mari Koppanen

Finnish designer Mari Koppanen unveils FOMES, a furniture collection that mimics the characteristics of a polypore mushroom. The series consists of two pieces of seats furniture made from a combination of wood, wool and mushrooms. The legs of the pieces are covered in soft, suede-like tinder, a material that comes from a polyp fungus called Fomes fomentarius. The different shapes resemble the mushroom in different stages of growth.

all images by Jere Viinikainen, unless otherwise noted

work with Tinder derived from mushrooms

The FOMES collection sheds light on the almost lost technique of processing mushrooms from Eastern Transylvania and offers new ways to use this ancient material in contemporary design pieces. For this project, Mari Koppanen (see more here) made generous use of the suede-like material Amadou, a folk craft material from eastern Transylvania used by locals to make small items such as hats and bags. Tinder is an absorbent, anti-inflammatory, and renewable material that’s also all-natural, vegan, and cruelty-free. Unlike other lab-grown mushroom materials, it contains no harmful or plastic-based binders or coatings, but is simply a creation of nature.

The material is processed manually by peeling and cutting the fungus. The Tinder layer is located inside the fruiting body. It is carefully separated from the cuticle and spore tubes, stretched with small circular movements and dried. The preparation seems simple but requires a lot of practice and knowledge. The Amadou know-how has almost been lost, the number of families practicing this craft having decreased considerably over the last decades.

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FOMES Composed of two seats with generous shapes that imitate the features of a mushroom with several leaves. The legs are upholstered in soft suede Amadou, made by Romanian artisans, while the seats are upholstered in a woven wool blend. By making amadou known, Koppanen hopes to help perpetuate the know-how of this tradition. She has designed a series of objects using this material as a substitute for animal leather.

‘Amadou is a material in its own right. Not just because of its performance qualities, but because of its cultural and historical value. Fungal matter is coming more and more into the industry but in my eyes amadou is the mother of all. It has been used for thousands of years for different medical and spiritual purposes. Even Ötzi, the ice cream man, took Amadou with him’, said Koppanen.

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fomes fungal furniture range mimic polypore fungus 8Mari Koppanen’s photo