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Growth industry: Sunset Park company grows lampshades from mushrooms • Brooklyn Paper

Growth industry: Sunset Park company grows lampshades from mushrooms

Enlightening: Danielle Trofe made this large hanging pendant lamp from discarded plants and fungus roots.
Lori Nix

It’s made in the shade.

Danielle Trofe Design is selling a line of lamps with shades made from mushrooms called the Mush-Lume collection. Trofe, who is getting ready for a move into Sunset Park’s Industry City, said her fungal creations fit in perfectly with the ethos of her design studio.

“We’re striving to disrupt the norms of interior design products,” she said. “What they’re made from and how they’re made.”

The Mush-Lume lights are made from a substance created by the sustainablity-minded material science company Ecovative. It consists of agricultural byproducts such as corn stalks, seed husks, and hemp, mulched and mixed with liquid mushroom mycelium, the filament in fungus that furthers reproduction. Trofe packs the stuff into custom molds, adds a little water and flour, and the mushroom stuff bind it all together.

“It’s basically like nature’s glue,” Trofe said.

The shades take between four and seven days to grow, depending on their size. Afterwards she bakes them to stop the fungus from growing, and they take on a texture similar to cement. Trofe then installs the lighting elements and the lamps are ready to go. The process is easy on the environment because it uses plant parts that would otherwise be discarded and takes very little energy to make happen, Trofe said.

“It’s using a new material that pretty much grew itself,” she said.

When people are done using their once-living lights, they can simply break the shades apart and put them in a compost pile, which keeps most of their waste out of the landfill. But Trofe said there is no need to worry about them disintegrating before that.

“They won’t biodegrade in your living room,” she said.

The new Industry City space will be about the size of a two-car garage. The tight quarters should not be a problem for Trofe’s operation, she said.

“The nice thing about this production process, if you want to call it that, is that it doesn’t need a lot of space,” she said.

The Mush-Lumes start at $300 for a small version that hangs from a light fixture. A six-piece chandelier goes for $1,650. There is also a particularly toadstool-like table lamp that retails for $500. The lights are only available through the company’s online store right now, but Trofe hopes to start hawking them at local retailers soon.

Trofe makes also makes mushroom-based planters, and designed a self-watering vertical garden made from recyclable plastic and three-dimensionally printed components, one of which is on permanent display at the visitor center in the Botanic Garden.

Her overarching goal is to find new ways to make the things we use every day, she said, something the mushroom lamps are a perfect example of.

“It’s a sustainable material that incorporates new technology in a consumer product,” she said.

Techno Files

Mayor DeBlasio launched his city-wide Tech Talent Pipeline initiative this week. DeBlasio says the program will bring education, training, and job opportunities to New Yorkers interested in tech careers. The program is a $10 million partnership between the city and some of the biggest companies in the city. It is aimed at cultivating local talent to fill technology jobs, rather than relying on people from elsewhere. Among the 25 executives who make up its advisory board are Yancey Strickler from Greenpoint’s Kickstarter and Chad Dickerson from Dumbo’s Etsy.

•••

The city held a mixer for its digital.nyc website at the Made in New York Media Center in Dumbo on Wednesday. It featured a panel discussion about growing startups in the borough that included Raul Gutierrez from TinyBop, Anastasia Leng from Hatch, Noah Rosenberg from Narratively,

and Charlie O’Donnell from Brooklyn Bridge Ventures.

•••

Cablevision’s Brooklyn workers have a new contract after a three-year dispute with the television and internet service provider. The 262 borough technicians battled with the company over the right to belong to Communications Workers of America, an effort union heads said owner James Dolan illegally tried to block.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Fungus: The musroom-based lamps are madee from sustainable materials and are biodegradable so they have a minimal impact on the environment.
Lori Nix

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