Wood Decay by Fungi This project is derived from Milo's personal fascination for wood decay, caused by fungi. In today’s standardized wood industry defects and deviations are not allowed, most of this wood is being destroyed in a shredder or used as firewood while it may be used for other applications. Wood is a resource that is formed by nature and biodegraded by fungi in the last life stage. This process can result in beautiful visual effects to the material; Pigmentation, bleaching and zone line formation for example.
This project offers a different perspective on the material, both the application and cultivation, of fungi in wood. The cultivation of fungi in controlled setting makes possible to create ‘spalted’ wood to the desire of the designer or consumer. We can go beyond what nature has to offer us.
More about wood degrading fungi Fungi are classified as microorganisms and do consists of hyphae, which are thin white threads. All the hyphae together are called mycelium. A Fungus does use enzymes to break down the cell walls of the main components of wood; cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. To continue the life cycle of a fungus it produces a fruiting body when the mycelium has reached a certain stage of growth. This fruiting body grows out of a tree or piece of wood and makes it possible to identify the type of fungi.
There are different types of wood degradation caused by fungi; brown rot, soft rot, white rot and pigmentation. Brown rot and soft rot are forms of degradation that cause difficulties in the processing of timber. For our products we use wood with white rot and pigmentation.
White rot fungi White rot fungi break down lignin in wood, which can cause fading. The lignin provides the wood of a brown tint but also strength and flexibility. Two white rot fungi can cause zone lines (black line drawings) for various reasons. For example, because two different white rot fungi are in a fight for territory. The stronger fungus does build an impenetrable wall of black mycelium around the other fungus so that the enemy can’t expand his territory.
There are many different fungi that can produce various colour pigments. The colour is caused by the production of melanin; it remains behind in the timber. These fungi cause very little to no damage in the wood and only take sugary juices from the wood.