New Biomimicry Practice Enhances Azul Seven's Human-Centered Design Work

By Lisa Helminiak

August 23, 2016

Azul Seven is evolving. We’ve added the biomimicry practice to strengthen the skill set we offer clients.

Azul Seven began nine years ago as a scrappy, high-minded digital agency. We were good at using the disruptive forces of the online revolution to reinvent our client’s businesses, but we weren’t content to stop there.

Five years ago we began focusing more intently on human-centered design focused on creating better and more innovative digital products and the service. This allowed us to align client goals with true human needs, and it resulted in the most interesting, rewarding work of our careers to date.

Now we’ve added another dimension to our design work to respond to a concern that’s been lurking behind even our favorite projects.

Humans Aren’t the Only Life on Earth

We’ve always been concerned about how our designs impact the planet.

We paid great attention to how our work affects humans—our clients and their customers. But what about other life on the planet? Were we creating more waste? Were we disrupting ecosystems?

Humans aren’t separate from the ecosystems around us. When we create things that impact them negatively, we disrupt the health and well-being of our communities.

We aspire to create designs that sustain human life by also considering the other species with which we share the planet.

So when we learned about biomimicry, we knew the practice could strengthen our innovation focus and make our design more ecologically sensitive.

Now we’re proud to announce that Azul Seven principal and design practice leader, Denny Royal, has completed a Master’s degree in biomimicry through Arizona State University, with instruction by Biomimicry 3.8, the originators of the methodology.

What is Biomimicry?

The Biomimicry Institute defines biomimicry as “an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.”

In essence, biomimicry is the recognition that other species have evolved many brilliant, ecologically friendly solutions to the same challenges we humans face. From energy and food production, to mobility and shelter, even packaging and organizational development, the list is virtually endless, and so is the sustainable design inspiration.

Biomimicry is a methodology for identifying and distilling the appropriate design lessons from peer-reviewed biological research. By looking to nature for design examples, we have 3.8 billion years of evolution to draw upon.

What can we learn from ant colonies to make digital information transfer more efficient? What can frog skin teach us about protection from contamination? These are the possibilities biomimicry uncovers.

Evaluating Design Work from a Natural Perspective

Biomimicry also encourages us to look at the full lifespan of a product or service and all of its costs and impacts.

For example, engineered food products that value taste and convenience over nutrition have real costs to our economy in dollars spent on health conditions associated with obesity.

How might nature teach us to avoid the waste of unhealthy outcomes?

Examining the larger societal costs and impacts of our products is meaningful for the sustainability of businesses, and biomimicry provides us with the framework.

An Integrated Approach to Collaboration

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of our new biomimicry practice is the opportunity for broader collaborations.

Biomimicry integrates the work of designers, biologists, chemists, engineers, architects and others to tackle problems that no single discipline can solve.

Biomimicry unites diverse teams around a vocabulary, decision framework, and set of tools. It facilitates the kind of deep collaboration required to achieve significant innovation and change.

As with any innovation process, adding a biomimicry practice at Azul Seven will be a journey. But we trust that it’s the correct starting place.

We believe biomimicry is the key to finding new ways of understanding and communicating—to make things that rock our world in a good way. And we believe the people and creatures that share this planet are depending on it.

If you want to talk about how Azul Seven’s practice is evolving, connect with us. We want others to join us on this journey. Let’s see what we can make, change and do to create value while making our world better and more sustainable for all.

Click here to read Denny’s biomimicry ethos

Want to learn more about design for innovation or biomimicry?

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