Since 1902, The Gunlocke Company, headquartered in Wayland, NY has made some of the finest authentic office furniture in the world, meticulously crafted from warm, luxurious, natural wood and modern, state-of-the-art materials; all engineered and built to enhance professional work spaces in an enduring way.

A pioneer in the contract furniture industry, Gunlocke is also an innovator in driving best practices in developing lasting, sustainable manufacturing techniques and incorporating sustainable materials into its products and packaging. And thanks to a plentiful fungus, Gunlocke is doing it again.

Partnering with Ecovative Design of Green Island, New York (yes, Green Island), Gunlocke was the first company in the world to incorporate mushroom material technology into a contract furniture product.You read that correctly…mushroom material technology. In 2014, Gunlocke introduced the beautiful, award winning Savor™ guest chair, which features a seat back made entirely of sustainable materials called Myco Board.

Instead of plastic, which is made from oil, this seat back is innovatively grown using Ecovative’s mushroom material technology. It starts with agricultural waste, like corn stalks, which act as the growth medium for the mycelium.

Mycelium is analogous to the roots of mushrooms, and it acts as a natural self-assembling resin. This grows and is compressed to form Myco Board. It is natural, biobased, C2C Gold Certified as well as certified compostable under the USDA’s biopreferred program.

Why mushrooms?

-Mushrooms are nature’s recycling system, growing on plant-based materials, and self replicating without outside energy inputs.

-Mycelium is the vegetative tissue (roots) of a mushroom and it grows exponentially when provided the correct nutrition and environment.

-Mycelium is composed of chitin which is naturally water resistant and fire resistant. Under pressure and at the correct temperature, the chitin melts and binds thus acting as a natural resin.

-Any lignocellulosic material such as agricultural by products or wood fiber can be used as a growth medium for mushrooms.  These materials are abundant, regional, less expensive and less volatile than fossil fuel resources.

Why is this so cool and what does it have to do with a living future?

-Gunlocke is the first company in the world to use this innovative material technology in a contract furniture application. If a 113 year old company can do it, anyone can.

-There are roughly 2.3 pounds of corn stalks (typically an agricultural by-product) in each Savor™ Back.

-There are NO Glues, NO Resins, No VOCs and No RED LIST chemical in the Savor™ Chair Back. In fact, there are no chemicals added to the Myco Board material at all.

-The total renewable content of the Savor™ chair is 86% thanks to the Myco Board seat back, wood components and textiles (as long as a natural material like leather or cork is chosen).

-The Myco Board chair back is 99% biobased and has been certified compostable under the USDA’s bio-preferred program.

-The Savor™ backs are grown to near net shape in as little as 4 days and are pressed in a conductive, heat induction or RF presses.  Growing the backs into the approximate shape mold eliminates wastes typically associated with traditional plywood materials.

-The embodied energy in the Savor™ chair back is much lower as materials are locally sourced and grown, not manufactured.

-The unique, sustainable characteristics of the Savor™ guest chair were key characteristics that won it the contract furniture industry’s prestigious Best of NeoCon Editor’s Choice Award in 2014.

It’s not just upstarts who have embraced the value of innovative materials and regenerative technologies. Companies more than a century old, like The Gunlocke Company, can also have the vision to use these materials and technologies to make a living future happen. It’s one of the ways to last more than a century in the first place.

Source: International Living Future Institute, 07.27.15

Author: Roy Green (Gunlocke)