FFAD Review — Alexandra Kis-Baraksó

The Forager Fashion and Design (FFAD) program puts Forager’s mycelium materials in the hands of independent designers.  For designers, the introduction of a new kind of material is a rare event that creates new possibilities. Forager mycelium hides and foams represent just such a material, made on upcycled plants that would otherwise go to waste, creating high value, regenerative materials aligned with the cycles of nature. Forager is Ecovative’s division focused on premium mycelium alternatives for leather and foams in fashion, apparel, automotive, and other industries. FFAD launched to discover and democratize the possibilities of mycelium, by offering designers early access to the material, and a blank slate on which to create. These designs suggest the future of sustainable products made with mycelium materials. The Project: Minima Pack The Designer: Alexandra Kis-Baraksó / Manera Studio Concept: MANERA Studio is the brand of Turkish designer Alexandra Kis-Baraksó. The studio’s focus is on highly functional design with minimal environmental impact, utilizing thoughtful and sometimes experimental elements to achieve that goal. The Minima Pack exemplifies this philosophy. It is an elegantly simple backpack with a minimalist form that is functional and durable, while utilizing materials resourcefully and consciously. Made with hemp strap, laser cut wooden fixtures, and mycelium as the primary material, it uses traceable, natural materials and a minimum amount of scrap waste in processing. “I love the holistic approach, when we pay attention to details from the origin of the materials to the end of the lifecycle. I design vegan and organic objects, sourcing materials as locally as I can, and have also researched biologically grown materials for four years, so mycelium is a clear fit with my goals.” Process: An initial digital design phase is how the initial shape of the components was arrived at. At this phase, adjustments could be made in the overall design based on initial experiments with the material, which included cutting, sewing, and laser etching. To test the physical dimensions, foam prototyping was used before committing mycelium material to the design. Alexandra has been experimenting with mycelium for several years, but not with pure, high quality material like Forager™ Hides, which meant getting familiar with its unique properties and factoring those findings into the final design. The result was a back and forth process, in which the initial idea was reshaped by the properties of material as they were discovered by the designer.  “I have serious interest in the biologically grown materials scene, so i am always eager to learn more and more about them. These opportunities where i can get closer to them and actually try them out in prototyping is the best way to improve and getting new inspiration.”  About the Designer: Alexandra Kis-Baraksó is an industrial designer based in Turkey, whose work appears under the name of MANERA Studio. With a passion for designing useful, sustainable products that do no harm to the planet. Manera products are made entirely from plant-based materials, and occasionally also recycled materials, using digitally designed plywood parts in place of plastic, and utilizing experimental elements and features to simultaneously advance design and sustainability. A cornerstone of MANERA is that to strive for harmony with the environment and those who live in it, to place love of all living things at the fore of the search for new, useful objects. After earning a master’s degree in interior architecture and spending a nearly one-year detour as an interior architect, Alexandra began teaching university students in 2018, complementing creative work with collaborative learning.  “My creed from the early years of university was always about to research for solutions and methods of design that consider the wellbeing of our planet and all the living creatures on it. Through my work and my brand, I ask how we can do the least possible harm at every step of the design and manufacturing process.” Click here to learn more about the FFAD program, and find out how to get first access to Forager™ Foams and Hides. Want to get creating with mycelium materials now? Anyone can work with Ecovative’s MycoComposite™ materials, visit Grow.Bio for all the tools and information you need.  

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