Up-Cycle like a Nudibranch

The humble nudibranch, or sea slug, could be an incredible inspiration for how designers view recycling and up-cycling, and possibly even concepts around regenerative design. It’s taken me a little while, since Tim first told me this story, but here goes my first real attempt to put my money where my mouth is around the concept of visual communication in biomimicry. Looking forward to any feedback and ideas…

Nematocyst Up-cycling

Image 1 - Anemone

Image 2 Nematocysts

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Helping Designers Navigate Science

Alëna's superb and brave diagram above is kind of fascinating... I think this warrants a full discussion in the future...

For those of you who haven’t met Alëna, or followed her comments within the blog, I’d just like to point out that she is bloody superb. On her blog there is an excellent overview of “how to read science papers” that is a superb resource. For the most part, I’m probably going to repeat what Alëna already laid out beautifully, but thought I should put it in my own words and lock it in.

How to read a science paper

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Biomimicry is Not “Just” Biology Research

Superb diagram by Carla Gould and Jessica Ching - mapping out from hindsight the evolution of an 18 month biomimicry design project.

Having taught biomimicry for 6 years now, you’d think preparing for another wave of students would be relatively straight forward. In fact, it is probably more complex now that it ever has been before. Bruce Hinds (my co-teacher) and I have taught this enough times to be confident with the material, so much so that we are growing increasingly ambitious for meaningful projects to emerge from the class. Consequently, the question that drives the class has evolved from “how can we do biomimicry” to “where should we do biomimicry”. In other words;

What design topics should we tackle?

 Why is this a challenge?

Biomimicry is not “just” biology research. It also includes design research. While this might be obvious for some, there are many more who think the design insights should magically appear from thin air, with no need for context from the area of research. The reality suggests otherwise, and requires that in the limited time we have in the class room, our students need to cover twice as much ground. On one hand you think sounds straightforward, the students are in their higher years, and therefore have been exposed to a lot of design process already, but the reality is, introducing biology research adds a layer of healthy complexity to the design research and makes the whole process more time consuming (also pronounced “rewarding”).

And guess what, this is also the reason why businesses and design practices are not jumping vigorously on the biomimicry bandwagon; it’s hard work.

The good news about biology research

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