Popping up like mushrooms

“Last summer, we dragged a log from an Okanagan walnut tree back to our studio where it sat in a corner waiting for a purpose to present itself. Six months later, to our surprise, a beautiful cluster of slender cream-coloured mushrooms began to emerge from the side of the log.” So recalls Toby Barratt of Propellor Design, the Vancouver-based firm whose work is typically informed by nature.

Intrigued by the resilience and tenacity of mushrooms, the Propellor gang began to investigate how they grow and propagate. “We learned that in the world’s forests, just below the surface of the ground, the largest organisms on the globe thrive on the forest’s debris, turning waste into nutrients and soil,” says Barratt. “Trillions of kilometres of networked filaments known as mycelia act as channels for the multi-directional transmission of nutrients and information between plants and trees.” This immense and delicate network creates what renowned mycologist Paul Stamets calls “the earth’s biological Internet.”

The result of Propellor’s research is its new Mycologic light. “Its form is abstracted from the branching characteristics of a mycelial network, which occurs everywhere in nature as well as in the built and digital environments,” says Barratt. “Ultimately it implies life, growth and, by extension, information,”

Each Mycologic light is unique, handcrafted from solid black walnut (finished with a coat of pure linseed oil and beeswax), and lit with energy-efficient, long-lasting LEDs. The standard version of Mycologic has a 48-inch diameter; but the light can be scaled up, hung in groups, or otherwise customized to suit individual projects.