Defining design terms: What is biomimicry and what does it mean for you?

Defining design terms: What is biomimicry and what does it mean for you?

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Biomimicry. The concept has been sort of a hot topic for designers in recent years, but rarely is it discussed or even heard of by consumers. So let’s change that. Biomimicry might be a discipline used in design but it affects consumers too and can dramatically change our future.

Defining design terms: What is biomimicry and what does it mean for you?

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First of all, what is biomimicry? In basic terms, it is a discipline that focuses on bringing nature inside and using nature as a way of solving human design challenges. You may have noticed the recent trend of nature-inspired products. For example, a chandelier made out of wood or a jute rug created from plant fibers. Well you see, biomimicry relies on the assumption that in the past, nature has already found solutions to many of the problems we as humans are trying to solve. All you have to do is study nature to find the answers.

Defining design terms: What is biomimicry and what does it mean for you?

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Biomimicry is not simply looking at nature and being inspired for a new fabric print, light fixture or table design. It’s much, much more than that. In biomimicry, nature is used not only as inspiration for a product’s aesthetic form, but for its construction, development and process as well.

This might all sound very scientific and a bit confusing, but it’s simpler than you think. In fact, you have actually used products designed following biomimicry without even knowing it. Velcro, for example, is a product of biomimicry. George de Mestral, the inventor of Velcro, came up with the idea after observing the burrs stuck on his dog’s fur and his own clothing. By studying and copying nature, Mestral was able to develop a successful product that is still used today.

Defining design terms: What is biomimicry and what does it mean for you?

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Now that you better understand what biomimicry is and how it’s used in design, why should you care? Well, because finding answers by looking to nature can help designers develop more intelligent and sustainable products, meaning consumers too can benefit from biomimicry. You might even be benefiting from biomimicry right now in your own home! By observing and mimicking the internal structure of a firefly’s lit-up abdomen, researchers have been able to create more efficient LED light bulbs, therefore lowering the cost for consumers who use them.

A sustainable environment is better for everyone, so keep your eyes out for products that were inspired by nature and help biomimicry take on today’s environmental challenges.

By Wendy Weinert