Article: The Emerging Discipline of Biomimicry as a Design Paradigm Shift

By Carlos Fiorentino and Carlos Montana Hoyos

Published by The International Journal of Designed Objects



The paradigmatic situation in which the design disciplines are immersed as part of the human-driven global crisis – environmental, social and economical – demands responses coming from innovation and radical change. In this context the field of Biomimicry emerges in response to the new paradigms of design and can be a powerful tool for design for sustainability, and furthermore, for “resilient design.” Biomimicry inspires designers to learn from nature rather than use it as resource for materials and disposal. Natural systems are the playground for an astonishing amount of living forms in perfect balance with natural forces, living in a network of mutualism and synergy, in a sort of perpetual cycling loop. Life teaches us a clear lesson: after 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surround us is the secret to survival. We can learn from nature not only how to design better materials and artifacts, but also how to design better systems and conducts that lead to better behavioral patterns. As the principles of Biomimicry state, nature must be our measure, model, and mentor. This paper will explain why the emerging field of Biomimicry can be the (r)evolutionary step that design needs in order to address the new paradigms of a sustainable future. It will present main points which make Biomimicry a substantial set of ideas that can lead to product and material innovation, and finally it will discuss the prospect of this emerging field for building resilient and sustainable futures, while exploring and defining the concept of “resilient design.” Examples come from an extensive literature review, as well as from several years of implementation of “Biomimicry” in “Design for Sustainability” modules, within design courses taught by the authors in Singapore, Australia, and Canada.

Keywords: Bio-inspired Design, Biomimicry, Nature, Design for Sustainability, Resilient Design, Design Epistemology

Full article available here:
The International Journal of Designed Objects, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.2-15. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: November 26, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.031MB)).


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