Definition: The design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes.
Biomimicry is innovation inspired by nature.
Of course most of the time find bio mimicry in The world of design. It is looking to nature to find solutions to problems that nature has already solved. And adapting these solutions further to fit our needs.
And here we see things like using the shark skin as inspiration to reduce the drag in swim suits or using a bird’s beak as a way to optimize the bullet train. (interestingly, a lot of the design of the shinkansen was designed based on birds, simply because the general manager of the technical development department was a bird watcher.)
By looking at Nature there are many things that we can mimic.
1.Form & Function
This is recreating nature’s natural forms to help solve problems. As mentioned above, the shape of the end of the Japanese bullet train was inspired from the beak of the kingfisher. This is one example of this.
This would be mimicking how insects work for example to increase efficiency in computing.
Trying to eliminate byproducts in manufacturing and improving on upcycling by looking at how forests ecosystems work for example.
Bio mimicry examples:
Biomimicry could even be applied to chemistry. Most of the time we use toxic chemicals, solvents and reagents to create the chemical reaction we want and use brute force to do it. Compared to the elegant way nature does it. At low temperatures, most of the time with water as a solvent. Even when creating materials. Nature usually does it within their own bodies and thus cant afford to heat things up to astronomical temperatures. And yet they manage and are able to do it and create materials that can be far superior than what we come up with. (eg. spiders and silk worms)
“Why don’t we learn how to adapt from our ancestors before us who have already learnt how to live sustainably.”
“Nature is the best chemist, the best architect, the best engineer and the best designer. “
“Nature wastes nothing, and upcycles everything.”
“Create colour not using chemicals but structure.”
Biomimicry in fashion
Of course, we have seen biomimicry in the fashion industry as well.
Aesthetically we just need a glance and we could already see inspirations from nature.
And my personaly favourite would be Alexander Mcqueen’s roadkill Couture which makes use of the materials from animals killed from road accidents to create such mesmerizing beauty.
Of course we see biomimicry being applied not only in the creation of fashion’s form but also the process. For example in the creation of material. One example that we have seen is the use of Kombucha and turning it into leather.
Interestingly, other people have also proposed that we look to nature to learn how to solve our social problems. For example, learning through the social structure of ants and how ants work through a crisis. The video below explains how biomimicry could be used in things other than design.
It is interesting how all around us we see natural ingenious solutions to design and I feel that it is only natural that humans should learn from the greatest designer of them all, nature and evolution.Now this is not to downplay in anyway human innovation. I think the things that humans have come up with the the past few thousand of years is simply astounding. I mean look at the computer i’m using to type this post or the great pyramids created so long ago.But there is always room for improvement and it is not beyond us. We are a part of nature too.
I think one of the most notable quotes from Janine M. Benyus (author of the book that coined the term biomimicry) is
“stick like a gecko, compute like a cell, run a business like a redwood forest.”
There are so many things we can apply the teachings of nature to. If only we would stop, listen and learn to the organisms that ame before us.