Biomimicry

From WikID

This section is written by McCauley Wanner

What Is Biomimicry?

Figure 1: Example of Biomimicry; Mercedez-Benz concept car inspired by a boxfish

Biomimicry takes its inspiration from natural processes. It is an approach that searches for new ways of creating sustainable materials, products, services, and other solutions by learning how nature already works.

The Design Spiral, developed by the Biomimicry Guild, represents a design process from a biomimetic perspective.

As designers we have the job of coming up with new ideas and products in order to fulfil a particular need or function. What we have just recently begun to realise is that nature has already perfected and come up with all the answers. For as long as man has been on the earth, we have tried to figure out how to survive, using materials and different products to make our lives easier. However, we have never cared to understand that somewhere in nature something is doing it, making it, disposing it much better and more efficiently than we ever could. Nature has mastered productivity and disposal and figured out what works and does not in order to survive together in the most harmonious way. Biomimicry is just that. It takes the lessons and processes from nature in order to make the most efficient, sustainable, functional and aesthetically beautiful products. In other words, biomimicry references nature in order to design things that just seem to make sense.

A common example used to explain the current studies happening in biomimetic design is the Mercedes-Benz concept car. In order to make an efficient, safe and spacious vehicle, the company has come up with an idea that looks at the structure of the boxfish. Because of its large body shape and ability to swim extremely fast, researchers wanted to discover how to diffuse these lessons into a car design. This design proved to be successful in efficiency and drag tests, although the form remains outlandish for the probable consumers.

When Can You Use the Biomimicry Design Spiral?

The Design Spiral can be used from the concept generation stage to the detailed design stage. The Design Spiral is not terribly different from the process that you already engage in when designing. The Spiral expands the design brief through translation into similar biological processes.


Figure 2: Biomimicry Design Spiral, developed by Carl Hastrich

How to Use the Biomimicry Design Spiral?

The Biomimicry Design Spiral shows a step by step approach.

Tips and Concerns

  • Biomimicry does not offer much guidance in terms of social or financial sustainability. It is primarily focused on environmental impacts.
  • Using a biomimicry approach may lead you into unknown territory. You may have to do some serious research to find promising natural principles for your design problem.

References and Further Reading


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