mushroom theory

of all the things i consume, i will never tire of the whimsical tales neatly packed into quarterly publication apartmento.

in particular i enjoy the short essays in the beginning of each issue, for their alternative musings of otherwise familiar daily spaces inject a refreshing new light i can use to shine on my own spaces. i have had mushroom theory tacked onto my bedroom wall for a while now. for me it serves to reduce the anguish i feel at the onset of a creative project – an anguish which i think is caused by a need to achieve perfection, which consequently leaves me paralysed + unable to progress for fear of letting the world see how imperfect i am.  the idea that imperfection is found everywhere in nature brings me relief, since nature truly is the ultimate perfection.

(some snippets from) mushroom theory by jenna sutela


comparing food and architecture, [cedric] price is not the only important designer with culinary references. wasn’t it buckminster fuller who explained the chemical structure of the universe through pineapples? and another creative hero of mine, john cage, went mushrooming with music in mind. 

‘much can be learned about music by devoting oneself to the mushroom.’ the amateur mycologist stated in a 1981 interview for the new york times.

coming from finland – a country where it’s possible to go on chanterelle outings in the central park of helsinki… it is easy to acknowledge the influence of the mushroom on local life, and even design. with so much wild nature around, it is for instance important to teach children to know a poisonous mushroom from edible ones starting with their first piece of furniture. And even the in-built ability to spot mushrooms everywhere in the surrounding environment, hunting and gathering all the time, must have an effect on how we experience life.

while all this might simply have to do with practicalities of life, or living where circumstances are somewhere in between urban and rural, i agree with cage that there is more to the mushroom when it comes to creative work. 

representing a disordered freedom void of determination and meaning, escaping erudition, mushrooms inspired his compositions based on chance operations. similarly, almost any creation can learn from the life of fungi – their spontaneity as well as symbiotic relationship with the surrounding environment. 

after al, what mushrooms actually are is reproductive structures interacting with other organisms through their mycelium, decaying logs or partnering living trees, and thus leading a long life. like good ideas, they appear haphasardly and sometimes overnight, able to live almost anywhere. mushrooms were not only the source of inspiration for tapio wirkkala’s classic kantarelli vase but also the motif on a daniel palillo fashion piece. they also frequently show up on my dinner table in various different colours, shapes and sizes. 

mushrooms are a great reference point not only in size but also because of their mysterious propoerties. some mushrooms will kill you, while others, like the kombucha mushroom in tea, are considered an elixir of life comparable to the alchemical substances consumed by isaac newton and other 17th century inventors seeking longevity and ultimate wisdom. 

like the future, mushrooms are hard to predict and their preparation takes a prior intelligence to master. maybe that is why so many interesting things are happening around them. preparing for the future – just as identifying mushrooms, picking and cooking them – the more love, energy and practice goes into the process the better the result. ‘it is the element of anticipation that connects cooking and working’ as cedric price put it.


Author: rachdg

i'm rachel. a lifelong traveller, i live in sydney via tokyo + scandinavia. full time PR consultant, part time art student. lover of history, vintage, yoga, art + food.

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