Heritage

Heritage

Heritage

Heritage

Heritage

Heritage

Heritage

Heritage

Heritage

Heritage

Our Heritage

— 1990-2013

A biotechnology company founded by artists

Origins

Our origins begin with MycoWorks co-founder and San Francisco artist Philip Ross, who has worked at the intersection of art, design and biotechnology for over three decades.

Phil began cultivating mycelium as a material for art and design in the 1990s, inspired by the beauty and life cycles of mushrooms. A skilled chef and naturalist, Phil’s field work in mycology began in the woods of upstate New York, where he first learned to forage for wild mushrooms. His subsequent work as a hospice caregiver during the HIV crisis in San Francisco introduced him to the immune-supporting benefits of reishi mushrooms, which he began growing for medicinal use. He discovered a rich diversity in form, texture and color—expressions of reishi’s dynamic response to the everyday forces of light, air, gravity and temperature. Phil soon began working with reishi as a material for creating sculptures, bringing culinary precision and a naturalist’s keen eye to perfect his “biotechniques” for growing living works of art.

"SCHOLAR'S FUNGUS" (2014)

PHOTO:
PHIL ROSS

Phil’s pioneering materials research launched the field of mycotecture, a term he coined in 2008 to describe the art of designing and building with mycelium. His mycelium artworks and installations have been exhibited internationally at MoMA, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf and The Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, and his patents and publications are foundational to the field of mycelium material science. When worldwide interest in Phil’s material inventions brought opportunities to partner with brands seeking innovative, sustainable materials, Phil invited his long-time artistic collaborator, Sophia Wang, to start a company.

"MYCOTECTURE VAULT" (2011)

PHOTO:
PHIL ROSS

Raised in a family of molecular cell biologists and trained as an artist and writer, Sophia’s cultural fluency spans the living systems of nature and the aesthetics of visual arts, dance and literature. While writing her doctoral dissertation on epic poetry and advancing a dance and performance practice, Sophia had worked with Phil as a thought partner and producer for a series of public programs exploring the culture and history of bioreactor design. She first encountered Phil’s mycelium sculptures in 2007 and recognized the potential of mycelium as a living material with endless aesthetic expressions.

She also understood the role that art and storytelling would play in communicating mycelium’s potential to the world.

PHIL ROSS IN THE FIRST MYCOWORKS STUDIO

PHOTO:
JJ CASAS
SOPHIA WANG IN THE FIRST MYCOWORKS STUDIO

PHOTO:
JJ CASAS

Sophia stepped forward to lead their efforts to bring mycelium materials to the wider world, and MycoWorks was born in 2013. Sophia, Phil and their small team of artists and fabricators converted Phil’s San Francisco art studio into a workshop laboratory and began advancing Phil’s biotechniques into the technology that would become Fine Mycelium.

MYCOWORKS STRUCTURAL MYCELIUM MATERIAL AND A REISHI MUSHROOM

PHOTO:
JJ CASAS

— 2014-2016

Seed funding, prototypes and the pivot to fashion

Acceleration

MycoWorks’ early product development focused on the rigid mycelium materials that Phil’s artworks had demonstrated.

The team created panels and molded forms for interior and structural design, attracting interest from architects, furniture designers and manufacturers from a wide range of industries. MycoWorks’ mycelium materials were presented at the 2016 Venice Biennale of Architecture as part of the Time Space ExistenceDaring Growth exhibit envisioning decentralized, local and renewable production systems based on natural building materials.

MYCOWORKS MATERIALS ON DISPLAY IN "DARING GROWTH," CURATED BY DIRK HEBEL AND FELIX HEISEL FOR THE VENICE BIENNALE OF ARCHITECTURE, 2016

PHOTO:
MARIANNE LUCIEN

2016 also marks the pivot MycoWorks made towards developing flexible mycelium materials designed to perform like leather. With seed funding from the biotechnology accelerator Indiebio, Sophia, Phil and their growing team turned their focus to their most exciting creation yet: an advanced mycelium material with the look and feel of premium leather, which would become the genesis for Reishi™ Fine Mycelium.

MYCOWORKS STUCTURAL MYCELIUM MATERIALS, 2014

PHOTO:
MYCOWORKS

In close dialogue with fashion and footwear brands seeking to improve their supply chains with sustainable materials, MycoWorks advanced a process for growing uniform sheets of interwoven mycelium customized for thickness, surface features and dimension.

In their small studio, the team experimented with vegetable tanning and finishing techniques adapted from the leather industry and customized for mycelium.

At IndieBio’s culminating pitch event, Sophia unveiled a sheet of mycelium the size of a half cowhide, which the team had grown in a matter of weeks. It was the first public demonstration of the biomaterials breakthrough MycoWorks had achieved, launching the company into its next phase of growth.

MYCOWORK MYCELIUM SHEETS - NATURAL, 2016

PHOTO:
MYCOWORKS
MYCOWORKS MYCELIUM SHEETS - ASSORTED, 2016

PHOTO:
MYCOWORKS

— 2017-2019

Art and design meet materials science

A Growing Movement

As MycoWorks caught the attention of high-end fashion and footwear brands around the world, Sophia and Phil knew their biomaterial invention had the potential to greatly impact the fashion industry. MycoWorks was flooded with invitations to help create the world’s first products with their mycelium materials, so Phil and Sophia began building a team to scale their operations to meet this demand. Fitting for a company founded by artists, it was through their creative community that they met Matt Scullin, the materials science entrepreneur who would join MycoWorks as CEO.

MATT SCULLIN, MYCOWORKS CEO

PHOTO:
BRENDAN MAININI

In 2017, Matt was already a recognized entrepreneur in the sustainable energy industry, having brought a pioneering thermoelectric technology from development through commercialization as Chief Executive and co-founder of Alphabet Energy. He had drawn from his doctoral research in crystallography to co-create Rules of Six, an algorithmic sculpture for the New York Museum of Modern Art, so Matt shared with Phil and Sophia a creative practice at the juncture of art, science and design, and a professional dedication to materials innovation.

Matt first visited the MycoWorks studio alongside the innovation manager for one of the world’s foremost luxury brands. Phil had invited Matt to join their meeting as an introduction to the materials MycoWorks had developed and the caliber of brands interested in partnership.

That fateful visit launched a journey of courageous first steps, inspired by the potential in this incredible material.

MycoWorks embarked on a multi-year development partnership with the brand, and Matt joined MycoWorks, compelled by the rare opportunity to bring a truly new material into the world.

MYCOWORKS COO MIKE LINDHEIM AT THE PILOT FACILITY

PHOTO:
LINDSEY FILOWITZ
EXPLORING THE MYCOWORKS PILOT FACILITY

PHOTO:
LINDSEY FILOWITZ

Matt steered MycoWorks through our first major phase of growth, building a founding leadership team with expertise in operations, engineering and technology development. The company expanded its production volumes to the limits of the San Francisco workshop, so in 2019, MycoWorks established a second production site in Emeryville, CA. Matt began raising the company’s first major round of funding and continued to advance our partnerships with a selection of high-end brands. MycoWorks engaged Curtidos Badia, a fourth generation family-owned tannery, to deliver the highest quality finishes for our materials.

With our Series A round committed, in 2019 MycoWorks broke ground on a third site: a 30,000 square foot facility in Emeryville to serve as our pilot plant and headquarters.

Over the course of two years, our team grew from 5 to 45 people and evolved the biotechniques Phil had developed into a patented process called Fine Mycelium, which engineers mycelium as it grows to create proprietary cellular structures that are densely intertwined and strong. In honor of the living resource that has enabled this biomaterial innovation, we named our flagship material Reishi: the world’s first Fine Mycelium option for leather.

— 2020

Reishi Fine Mycelium debuts at New York Fashion Week

Launch

After years of perfecting Reishi in collaboration with our brand partners and master leather craftspeople, MycoWorks launched Reishi Fine Mycelium at New York Fashion Week in February 2020. Our product brand debut was the culmination of years spent developing the Fine Mycelium process to achieve a material that meets the highest performance and quality standards in fashion and luxury.

A LOOK BACK AT THE REISHI BRAND LAUNCH, NYFW 2020

VIDEO:
MYCOWORKS
ELETTRA ROSSELLINI WIEDEMANN AT THE REISHI SHOWROOM, NYFW 2020

PHOTO:
YOUNG HERO

We invited the fashion world to experience Reishi in person at our appointment-only showroom in downtown New York.

Over the next four days, hundreds of editors, designers and thought leaders stopped by to experience Fine Mycelium for the first time—and all were amazed at the quality we had achieved with Reishi.

The sensory appeal of these in-person experiences was summed up by Coolhunting: “Touching Reishi solidifies belief in it.”

This was the first time we had presented Reishi in its entirety: the name, our product site, our concept and our creative point of view. We launched the @madewithreishi Instagram to connect with a like-minded community of brands, designers and people thinking about the future of materials. And to cap off our Fashion Week debut, we hosted a brand launch afterparty featuring a live show by 70s post-punk band, Television.

MYCOWORKS CEO MATT SCULLIN AND ELETTRA WIEDEMANN AT THE REISHI LAUNCH DINNER, IL BUCO, 2020

PHOTO:
BFA
DISCOVERING REISHI AT MYCOWORKS' NYFW SHOWROOM, 2020

PHOTO:
YOUNG HERO
TELEVISION'S JIMMY RIP PERFORMS AT THE REISHI LAUNCH AFTERPARTY, NYFW 2020

PHOTO:
JESSICA GUREWITZ
A LIVE SET BY TELEVISION FEATURING TOM VERLAINE AT THE REISHI LAUNCH AFTERPARTY, NYFW 2020

PHOTO:
JESSICA GUREWITZ

The momentum from our brand launch propelled our partnerships and growth through the span of the year, enabling us to raise a Series B funding round and expand our team to 70 people. We established a Scientific Advisory Board and brought on experienced executives in manufacturing, supply chain and process development to lead our company mission to create a platform for the highest quality materials using Fine Mycelium. Together with our brand partners, we planned for exciting product launches in the months ahead: the realization of years of patient, creative collaboration on objects made with Reishi to the fashion industry’s highest standards.

— TODAY

Our founding values and future horizons

The Future of Materials

Since our founding, MycoWorks has partnered with people and brands dedicated to achieving artisanal excellence and uncompromising quality in every product made with Reishi Fine Mycelium. We rely on the tools of biotechnology, manufacturing excellence and creative, master craftsmanship.

Our heritage in art, design, and materials science is evident in the diverse range of innovators and leaders on our team.

They range from our Fine Mycelium Experts—the world’s first master artisans in the craft and technology of Fine Mycelium—to our executive leaders with proven expertise in biomanufacturing, rapidly scaling new technologies and amplifying value through our collaborations and storytelling.

REISHI SHEETS AT MYCOWORKS' TANNERY PARTNER, CURTIDOS BADIA

PHOTO:
LAURA GUTIERREZ

As we prepare for our commercial launches in the months ahead, MycoWorks remains grounded in our founding values. We are data-driven in our commitment to quality, and we lead with respect, empathy and inclusion in the relationships we build with our customers, partners and one other.

Our foundations lie in an art practice built on intimate observation and design of living forms and systems.

These origins fuel our deep curiosity today as engineers, scientists and producers advancing the biotechnology of Fine Mycelium to benefit the world’s supply chains and enable new design possibilities. 

FINE MYCELIUM EXPERT

PHOTO:
CARLA TRAMULLAS
EXPERIENCING REISHI BLACK EMBOSS

PHOTO:
LAURA GUTIERREZ

We are proud to be the world leader in advanced mycelium materials and to have inspired a growing movement to advance the science, technology and design capabilities of mycelium.

Together with our partners, we are growing the future of materials with the technology of Fine Mycelium.

Our journey together is just beginning.