Eric Klarenbeek has 3D printed a chair which, of all possible materials, makes use of living fungus.

And, according to Klarenbeek, it's not all just biological hype. He says the fungus actually grows inside the chair's structure and gives it additional strength.

Klarenbeek's Mycelium Chair was designed and printed in collaboration with a team of scientists at the University of Aachen and it was done, in part, to research new ways of printing with living organisms.

"Our main purpose was to bring together the machine and nature to create a new material that could be used to make any product," Klarenbeek said.

The chair was unveiled this weekend at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

Printed using a mixture of water, powdered straw and mycelium (the 'ropey' portion of an underground fungus) the mycelium grew within the structure. That evolution replaced the water in the structure and created a solid, but still very lightweight, material in its place. It even began to sprout mushrooms on the chair's surface.

Presumably to protect the surface of the chair, a layer of printed bioplastic was used to contain the fungus as it grew. Klarenbeek used straw for a substrate.

Klarenbeek says he's interested in "combining materials in unexpected ways," and he's most certainly hit the mark with his toadstool chair.

But does it have utility as well as shock value?

Klarenbeek says that once the chair has "matured," it will be strong enough to support the weight of a person and that his chair is "a metaphor for what can be achieved with materials and production methods."

And when it goes out of style, it might be useful as compost...