Bonenberg A., Sydor M., Cofta G., Doczekalska B., Grygorowicz-Kosakowska K. (2023). Mycelium-Based Composite Materials: Study of Acceptance. Materials 16(6):2164.
Mycelium-based composites (MBCs) are alternative biopolymers for designing sustainable furniture and other interior elements. These innovative biocomposites have many ecological advantages but present a new challenge in aesthetics and human product acceptance. Grown products, made using living mycelium and lignocellulosic substrates, are porous, have irregular surfaces and have irregular coloring. The natural origin of these types of materials and the fear of fungus can be a challenge. This research investigated the level of human acceptance of the new material. Respondents were students of architecture who can be considered as people involved in interior design and competent in the design field. Research has been performed on the authors’ prototype products made from MBCs. Three complementary consumer tests were performed. The obtained results measured the human reactions and demonstrated to which extents products made of MBCs were “likeable” and their nonobvious aesthetics were acceptable to the public. The results showed that MBC materials generally had a positive or not-negative assessment. The responses after the pairwise comparison of the MBC with wall cladding samples pointed out the advantage of ceramic reference material above the MBC based on an overall assessment. The respondents also believed that the chamotte clay cladding would be easier to fit into the aesthetics of a modern interior and would in better accordance with its style. Although the MBC was less visually appealing, the respondents nevertheless found it more interesting, original, and environmentally friendly. The experiments suggested that the respondents had double standards regarding MBCs. MBCs were generally accepted as ecological, but not in their own homes. All of these results support current and future applications of MBCs for manufacturing items where enhanced aesthetics are required.
Keywords: mycelium-based composites; mycomaterials; bio-design; interior design; furniture design; aesthetics; eco-aesthetics; fast fashion; customer perspective