Dutch designers have created the world’s first mycelium coffin in which the deceased person can be buried. The world-first achievement claims a moss-filled coffin made of the underground fungal network of mushrooms.
The Living Cocoon was created by Bob Hendrikx by partnering with researchers from the Delft University of Technology and the Naturalis Natural History Museum and has already been included in the coffin collections provided by two Dutch funeral companies.
“The Living Cocoon enables people to become one with nature again and to enrich the soil, instead of polluting it,” says Hendrikx. “After months of development, it was a really impressive moment to be finally able to mark someone’s passing in this extraordinary way.”
The varnished and metal elements of a regular coffin, as well as synthetic clothing, only compost in more than a decade, and sometimes, depending on various conditions, even longer.
Hendrikx expects the mycelium coffin to be able to carry out this process in two to three years, mainly because it actively helps the composting process. Not only are the waste products transformed into nutrients, but the quality of the soil is also enhanced, giving it a new life and a chance to thrive.
The production process takes a few weeks. The mycelium is grown in the shape of a coffin and then dried naturally, which actually pauses its growth. As soon as it is exposed to groundwater for a while, the mycelium catches life again, starting the composting process.
The coffins are lightweight but can handle up to 200 kilos (440 lbs) in weight. The first ten such coffins have been already grown, and the company hopes to be able to normalize this domestically, as well as abroad, in the near future.
While the Dutch mycelium coffin might be a first, back in 2015, Californian designer Jae Rhim Lee created a suit ingrained with mushroom spores to accelerate decomposition and neutralize toxins released by remains.