Biomimicry and Design, a Path to a Better Future

By Denny Royal

February 14, 2016

Looking to nature to solve humanity’s most vexing problems.

A few months ago I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a pretty incredible program, the Biomimicry Professional Certification Program through the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute, a two year masters level program in the study of the emerging field of Biomimicry. Every two years a new interdisciplinary cohort is formed to be fully immersed in the program and work together to learn the discipline from many different professional lenses.

So why me and why Biomimicry? In most of our work we use a human-centered design process to improve products and services. We focus on meeting unmet needs we find by listening and observing the people we are designing for. We then use the empathy we’ve gained, to narrow down the problem we are trying to solve, and then ideate solutions. When brainstorming new solutions, we are reliant on the creativity of the team to come up with new ideas that lead to better outcomes.

While this is a highly effective approach, it relies solely on the creative intuition of human beings. I think the ideation portion of most innovation processes could use a little help. While there are numerous articles out there debating the benefits or pitfalls of group ideation and individual creative time, the process still sits in the hands of a few, and this is where I think we could change.

So, where do we look for inspiration and innovation? How do we get out of our own headspace and find solutions to the problems that we face as a species and as a planet? This is where the practice of Biomimicry comes in.

Nature has roughly 3.8 billion years of innovation in iterative cycles under its belt, most likely it has solved many of the same problems we are grappling with on a daily basis: energy, food, climate control, non-toxic chemistry, etc. So, when I discovered the opportunity to combine my love of design and my love of nature, coupled with my innate curiosity, it was a given that I would start to pursue this field of thinking.

I believe that Biomimicry offers us our one true path forward as a species. If we can look to nature as our Model, Measure, and Mentor as Biomimicry teaches, we may be able to design a better future. This may mean reimagining design processes, how we currently define sustainability and most importantly, the way we approach it. But Biomimicry offers a framework to shift the current paradigm.

So, this is the journey I am on. Where it leads me, remains to be seen, but I do know that it will be interesting, and I know I’ll be spending a lot of time outside looking for answers.

Want to learn more about design for innovation or biomimicry?

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