GIY Maker Spotlight: Gergely Kiss-Laczay

Q: What first sparked your interest in the realm of mycology?

A: I have studied photography here in Hungary at the University of Kaposvár, at that time I suddenly ran into different kind of projects with mycelium while I was searching on the web for inspiration. I saw the fascinating things that groups and companies like Ecovative have already done, and thought that I want to be a part of this crazy new myco revolution. I already had a big interest in biology both in mushrooms and in all the organic world, kind of in my whole life. So in 2016 I ordered some culture syringes of a glowing fungus on ebay and started cultivating it, and I never stopped experimenting with mushrooms.

Q: What exactly are you researching/working on?

A: Right now I am thinking about the applications of the root like rhizomorph creating genus Armillaria as an art material. I believe that people really don’t think about mushrooms as something majestic, something that can be 2000 years old and cover 3.4 square miles of land. I want to show that these are incredible beings that had huge influence on the Earths ecosystem and the life we live today.

My other big dream is to join the work with mycelium based solutions that can replace plastic and other materials that has a harmful impact on the environment. In Transylvania there is a village, Korond where people have learned how to create beautiful folk art in the form of decorated hats and tablecloths from the fruiting bodies of the tinder species Fomes fomentarius. I am also experimenting with this mushroom species to create leather like materials but from the living mycelium mass.

Q: What is the purpose of your research/work?

A: On one hand I want to introduce these things to people who are not interested in mushrooms at all by creating something that they’ve never seen in their entire life, but maybe couldn’t even imagine that such a living creature could exist on this planet. On the other hand I want to create something useful, which can be a part of the everyday life. For example a mushroom grocery bag or a purse. So everybody could see that yes these things actually work, we can find a better solution to everything if we search enough.

Q: What do you like most about working with mushrooms/mycelium?

A: Maybe the most exciting thing about mushrooms is the whole base of their structure. These can be giant organisms, only one cell wall thick and I think this is all about structure. The brilliance of fungi is the evolutionary invention of connection, this is not just a great way to deal with practical, mechanical issues, but something that could be a social role model to us, humans. These are all fast changing, self healing, rapidly growing external networks of stomachs eating up natures garbage. I really love everything about them. But maybe the nicest thing is the smell of a totally colonized jar with the healthy, happy mycelium.