There is a lot of buzz about Biomimicry design, this idea that Mother Nature is the ultimate engineer and her handiwork teaches us much about enduring, functional, efficient design. Biomimicry is a philosophy, school of thought and design methodology that applies nature’s design principles to today’s design and engineering challenges
Biomimicry practitioners examine nature’s designs, patterns and strategies to find sustainable solutions to technical and design problems.
For example in building construction, Biomimicry can examine and apply nature’s solutions to light, heat and glare control
Biomimicry is based on respect for nature and the environment nurturing a deep connection between humans and nature.
This idea is nothing new. Leonardo da Vinci used the principles of Biomimicry in his designs. His flying machines drew inspiration from the mechanics of how birds fly and laid the foundation for the Wright brothers’ first powered air flight in 1903.
One of the greatest examples of Biomimicry is Velcro, invented by Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral who got the idea for Velcro after observing that burrs kept sticking to his dog’s fur and his own clothes. He examined the burrs noting how their hooks caught onto anything with a loop and used that concept in this design.
Another example is electronic displays born of the study of butterflies that mimic the wings of a butterfly by reflecting sunlight instead of using backlight or e-ink.
Biomimicry is becoming a mainstream concept in design and engineering at the forefront of creative thought. The Biomimicry Institute co-founded by Janine Benyus, a biological and author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Design offers resources and events to promote nature as our design model and mentor. Benyus gave a TED Talk on Biomimicry saying: “We live in a competent universe surrounded by genius. Biomimicry is a new discipline that tries to learn and take design advice. It’s about the organisms and ecosystems that know how to live here gracefully on its planet.”
For more on Biomimicry, check out the following resources aimed at expanding the mainstream application of bio-inspired design :
Ask Nature, an online compilation of nature’s design ideas.
The Biomimicry Institute shares its ‘playbook,’ the Biomimicry 38 DesignLens Collateral Tool Kit, at http://biomimicry.net.
Whether copying nature’s form, function and shape, a process of nature or mimicking an ecosystem, the end goal is to create and build in a way that is more sustainable and functional.
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