Continuing on from the my thoughts yesterday, how do you explore design research and biology research in parallel?
Using nature to prove your idea
It is very tempting to look to nature to find “proof” that justifies your pre-existing idea. Often it is easy to find a connection between natural systems and the theoretical best-practices within the fields of urban planning, architecture and industrial design. But if you are already aware of these ideas, has the biology research really helped you? And if these best-practices remain theoretical and mostly unachieved, are you even asking the right questions?
Perhaps in some cases this is all the heart desires, confirmation that you’re exploration is heading in the right direction, and new stories to help convey the thinking to your often unwilling audience.
But biomimicry should be about making “new” insights and observations that shift, challenge and expand how we approach design, business and engineering challenges. In order to achieve this level of insight a completely different mindset is required. The investigation requires ego to be set aside and preconceived wisdom to be parked on the back shelf and freedom to explore some rabbit holes whose end destinations may be unclear.
Is urban sprawl a bad thing?
How can we make play spaces for scientists and “designers”?
Thanks to everyone who has been posting comments, the feedback and dialogue is incredibly rewarding, and gets the ideas bouncing back in different ways, which is fantastic.
Peter Neiwiarowski, friend and Director of the Integrated Bioscience program at University of Akron, has been posting some particularly good feedback that has me thinking. In a recent comment he said:
I like to imagine that maybe the next great biological insight in some system will come from a designer doing biomimicry, or maybe a great design insight will come from a biologist doing biomimicry.
I love this goal, how might we make this happen?
This is going to be a quick post, because I have no idea how to answer the question, but found it intriguing that this question is not really being asked.
Cradle to Cradle is such a simple concept. It focuses on chemicals, has a narrow bandwidth of what is and isn’t acceptable, and through thorough analysis and investigation, that you would assume (incorrectly) was happening in the first place, leads to the approval of a small number of chemicals to be used in a final application. The redesign of the product using this refined palette to work from, leads to a chain of innovations from production to post consumption.
Biomimicry is not a simple concept. Cradle to Cradle can be argued broadly to be an element of biomimicry, along with a huge range of other creative and sustainability concepts. I’m not always sure this is a good thing.
As part of the scenario of sustainability around biomimicry, what do we actually need to learn from nature?
I’m going to treat this as an iterative discussion and return to it later once I have a little chance to process. I’m curious about how we should strategically approach this discussion.