“The material speaks for itself.”
Those were words we heard again and again from press, thought-leaders, brand partners, designers and investors, from the moment our Freedom of Creation exhibit opened its doors in late March.
“This feels so soft. I love it.”
“I’ve never seen a leather alternative that looks so real.”
“I love it—it’s been a long time coming. We’ve been seeing it online for years: it’s so great to see it now in real life.”
“Fascinating. Very interesting. I have questions. I love this.”
“Don’t sleep on Reishi™.”
Over three days, at Lavan541 in NYC’s vibrant and creative Chelsea neighborhood, MycoWorks opened its doors to the public and welcomed hundreds of guests to Freedom of Creation, an interactive exhibit offering complete access to our material, technology and the incredible story behind them.
We’ve been here before—but not like this.
We first shared Reishi™ with the world in early 2020, giving a select group of people the chance to touch our material for the very first time. During New York Fashion Week, we hosted about 100 attendees at a private, 450-square-foot showroom in Soho, presenting a dozen sheets of Reishi™ to a small, curated set of brand partners, investors, and media outlets.
Today, our sights are set much higher. At Lavan541’s 3500-square-foot event space, we welcomed over 500 attendees over three days to a completely immersive event, where guests had first-hand access to 105 sheets of Reishi™ across four rooms. Led by MycoWorks VP of Communications Sheila Bryson and VP of Brand and Marketing Xavier Gallego, with the immense creative and production expertise of Gradient, and with BPCM leading a top tier press agenda, we shared a far more expansive experience of MycoWorks: not only Reishi™ our material, but also the potential of Fine Mycelium™, the technology behind Reishi™. We wanted to make visible the invisible.
“This is the first time a biomaterials company has opened its door to the public.”
To let the public in on our process, to understand the material, to feel it: this is something completely new. The truth is, we couldn’t be more excited to share it all. Getting Reishi™ in people’s hands. Letting guests experience the mycelium as it grows—via the immersive, multi-screen Fine Mycelium™ room. Taking them on the journey of a sheet of Reishi™, from inoculation to harvest, to witness the incredible capacity of Fine Mycelium™ as a materials platform to customize sheets of Reishi™ as they grow.
“Art meets technology, meets sustainability.”
“This experience had made me a true believer.”
The mood was both igniting and intimate; the space was alive with creative buzz. Over the course of three days, a diverse mix of guests came through the venue doors—designers, writers, chefs, dancers, visual artists, tattoo artists, actors, musicians, mushroom enthusiasts, futurists, sustainability experts—creating the sense that new things were possible. With such a diversity of creative wisdom and expertise present, everyone became both a teacher and a student as they interacted in the space.
In each of the exhibit’s four rooms, a unique sensory experience awaited guests, and members of our MycoWorks executive team were available at different locations to host and guide our guests.
As guests first entered, the Reishi™ room offered an intimate moment to experience the material solo: indulging all the senses to encounter Reishi™ up close. This hushed, calm room had one central focal point: a large table layered with sheets of Reishi™ that guests were invited to touch and respond to, taking the opportunity to feel, handle, and smell the material, to see it up close and in detail. “I like the texture treatments.” “This one is like pebble leather.” “Wow, it smells like leather!” In the second room, guests were greeted by MycoWorks Co-Founder and Chief of Culture, Sophia Wang, as they traced the story of the company’s beginnings and unique heritage as a biotechnology company rooted in art.
In the Fine Mycelium™ room, CEO Matt Scullin led the way for key investors, brands, and media, introducing the Fine Mycelium™ platform, MycoWorks’ patented process and the technology behind Reishi™. With his signature enthusiasm and approachability, Matt explained what makes our material so unique in relation to animal leather and other material alternatives. At the center of the room, an architectural model of the Fine Mycelium™ production process created by San Francisco model artist Lisa Gemmiti allowed guests to follow the creation of a sheet of Reishi™ from inoculation to harvest, taking a behind-the-scenes view of the Fine Mycelium™ technology. Stationed at the model, Chief Operations Officer Doug Hardesty walked each attendee through every stage of the process from beginning to end.
Coming from a designer’s perspective and with the eye toward product design, Wei-En Chang, Senior Director of Product Strategy, together with Bill Morris, Senior Director of Product Management, hosted the Freedom of Creation room. Speaking from their unique experience and ability to see the potential of Fine Mycelium™, they inspired contagious curiosity with their excitement in sharing the incredible quality of the material and its unprecedented freedom to customize.
“Oh, you have an ostrich bag? I have a Reishi™ Fine Mycelium™ one.”
“What’s the first word I think of when I feel it? Future.”
This final room, Freedom of Creation, became a magnetic gathering space, a home for lively conversations about MycoWorks’ revolutionary Fine Mycelium™ platform, and the way it enables custom-made sheets of Reishi™ with endless specifications. Numerous tables drew guests in to explore different aspects and creative possibilities of working with Reishi™ — it became a place to ponder the future.
First, a table with various Reishi™ sheets made with different composite materials grown as integrated layers within the material for customized performance. Guests explored how copper, gold-plated mesh, and kevlar can each result in finished Reishi™ sheets with different hand-feel, texture, and material properties. Second: an atelier table showed how seamlessly traditional leather tools can be used to work with Reishi™; third: a display case exhibited prototypes of objects made with Reishi™: shoes, belts, an ultra-thin smartphone case, a stitchless wallet.
“Leather has had a ten thousand year head start,” said Wei-En, gesturing from behind the prototype display. “But there are things you can do with Fine Mycelium™ that you can’t do with animal hides.”
The upbeat, bright, electric energy we felt all week throughout the space made it clear: the world is ready to get their hands on Reishi™, and to see the potential of our Fine Mycelium™ platform fully unleashed. The world is already joining our journey to Grow the Future of Materials.