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Biomimicry Design: What Can We Learn from Nature

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.

Snail on the moss
Snail on the moss

This infographic from RS Components will walk you through some of the most peculiar and exciting technologies that nature is inspiring at the moment.

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.

unnamed 1
photo credit: Modern Surfaces

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.

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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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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a freelance writer living in Orlando, Florida with many published bylines in magazines, newspapers, and multimedia sites. As a professional lifestyle writer, Karen specializes in art, architecture, design, home interiors and personality profiles. Karen is the writer, producer and host of the streaming series, The Design Tourist (www.TheDesignTourist.com) that brings viewers a global dose of design inspiration with episodes featuring the latest looks and trends from the world’s premiere design events and shows. She also publishes a quarterly magazine on design travel that you can read by clicking the link: https://thedesigntourist.com/the-magazine/ Her journalism background includes seven years on-air experience as a TV news reporter and anchor covering a range of issues from education to politics. Her educational credentials include a Master of Arts in Mass Communications from Northeast Louisiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Louisiana State University. Throughout her career, Karen has written and produced dozens of documentaries and videos for educational, commercial, corporate, and governmental clients and appeared in many TV and video productions as a professional host.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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