A large, plywood box filled with mushrooms and other low plants sits in the middle of the Olderbrother clothing store in California, designed by the brand’s founders.
Olderbrother is a unisex clothing company that makes pieces with natural materials and dyes. Based in Portland, Oregon, the brand recently launched a collection dyed with chaga tea, a herbal drink made from steeped chaga mushrooms.
To relate to this dying technique, co-founders Bobby Bonaparte & Max Kingery decided to build a mushroom garden inside Olderbrother’s first shop.
At the centre of the room is a large, above-ground rectangular planter that measures three feet high, three feet long and six feet wide (one by one by two metres) and rests on the concrete floor. “It’s made of plywood à la Donald Judd,” said Bonaparte and Kingery, referring to the American artist who frequently used the material for his sculptures.
Inside this volume are dozens of various mushrooms and plants, which add colour and texture to the minimally decorated shop. “We have a sustainably harvested chaga from the Adirondacks, reishi, lions mane, yellow oyster and white button,” the duo said.
“We created a mushroom terrarium, used insulating tiles that were grown with mushrooms and stocked the store with an eclectic selection of mushroom-related books.”
Chaga mushrooms, in particular, resemble chunks of burnt charcoal and grow predominantly on birch trees in northern Europe, Canada and other cool climates.
The brown colour of the clothes displayed in the space is a result of the steeping in the chaga tea, which is a dark brown colour when brewed, and tastes earthy yet light.
Simple wooden racks with copper-coated joints surround the shop and display a selection of various coloured clothes, also dyed with natural elements like indigo, wood bark, hibiscus, and turmeric.
A cashier desk is situated in the rear of the store and is clad in medium-sized tiles made from mushroom mycelium, by Ecovative. “The brand takes discarded corn husks, grows a mycelium network to bind the material, then cure it,” said Bonaparte and Kingery.
A cream-coloured, round dining chair and a long upholstered sofa in the same pale hue are positioned in front of the check-out desk, creating a relaxed and homey vibe.
Other mushroom-related designs decorate the store sparingly, such as vintage books with drawings of toadstool, in addition to a large mirror at the front entrance that completes the minimal decor.
The material’s health benefits, as reportedly gained from chaga tea, and its potential power to eat plastic have been widely documented recently.
Photography is by Scott Leon.
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