Moulding The Future Working at the intersection of design, technology and science, Brooklynbased design studio Danielle Trofe Design is evolving the definition of designer lighting one MushLume at a time.
In harnessing innovative technologies and material sciences to create functional and accessible design, Danielle Trofe’s studio in New York, USA, aims to encourage a departure from conventional materials and production techniques in search of longterm, sustainable solutions in design. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Trofe lived out in the country growing up surrounded by horses and chickens. “I was outside every single day as a child,” she tells darc. “I believe I owe much of my affinity for and derived inspiration from nature and my value of it is deeply embedded in my childhood.” Trofe’s educational path into the design field was an unconventional one, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in marketing and entrepreneurship from Florida State University and then switching gears to achieve a Master’s degree from the Florence
Design Academy in Italy. It wasn’t until the budding designer was introduced to 3D modelling software that she realised her true calling in product design. “I’m currently studying for a Master’s degree in biomimicry from Arizona State University with an aim to incorporate sustainability at an even deeper level in my practice. Biomimicry is looking at nature’s form, function and ecosystems and consciously emulating these evolved strategies into human design.” While scoping out a project at materials innovation library Material ConneXion in Manhattan, Trofe came across something called Mushroom Materials, developed and produced by biomaterials company Ecovative, which grows sustainable products. “This fascinating mushroom material combines mushroom mycelium – the root structure of mushrooms – with
agricultural waste – corn stalks and seed husks – to create a natural, sustainable and biodegradable material that is grown, not manufactured,” says Trofe. “I knew immediately that I wanted to work with it and discover new applications within the furniture and lighting industry.” Mushroom mycelium speaks to the three pillars at the core of Trofe’s studio – science, technology and design – while also taking into consideration the full lifecycle of the product. “You’re starting with a waste product from the agricultural industry, upcycling it and combining it with mycelium, which is a rapidly renewable resource,” continues Trofe. “Instead of adding excessive water, heat and energy used during the ‘manufacturing’ process, you’re using only the power of nature to grow the product. Finally, at the end of its life, the material can safely biodegrade,