Gallery: Ask Nature: Using Biomimicry to Solve Design Problems

biomimicry inspiration

The Biomimicry Institute recently teamed up with Autodesk to launch, an incredible source of information for the growing community of professionals researching and applying the principles of biomimicry. The solutions that animals and nature have come up with have been tried and tested for millions of years (certainly longer than humans have been designing), so why reinvent the wheel? Why not learn from nature to make our designs more efficient, elegant, and sustainable?

Remember Velcro? George de Mestral, a swiss engineer, created Velcro after going on a hike with his dog in the Alps and coming home covered in burs. He fashioned velcro after how the burs had hooks on them and could catch on anything with a loop. You may have also used an idea from nature to help you solve a design problem. Many designers and architects are now using these design principle in order to create elegant solutions to every day pressing problems – like how can we more easily filter salt from water, or how animals naturally medicate themselves against disease.

Although AskNature is still in beta, the site has caught the eye of many designers, sustainability experts and news sites, and many people are quickly working to add more information, ideas and data. Researchers and biologists with information on how nature works are encouraged to share their findings, and designers, architects, and inventors can freely use this site to search for ideas and solutions, and even connect to the original researchers for collaboration.

There are many collaborators working to make this project successful, including Autodesk, IDEO, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and the Encyclopedia of Life. In the next few months expect to see a lot more information, as the Encyclopedia of Life will be populating the site with natural history information. You can also join the community to share your thoughts, ideas, and research. Nature’s most elegant solutions are not at your fingertips for free – it’s never been this easy.

Janine Benyus is the Co-Founder of the Biomimicry Institute, which is responsible for She is a very well respected scientist in the field of biomimicry, is a consultant for companies like Interface Carpets, and is the author of the well known book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.


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  3. tuttles November 27, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    The presentation on TED is done by Janine Benyus.

    Biomimicry is a wonderful way to approach design, however, I might argue that this approach has been around as long as we have been designing. It just fairly recently has been categorized “biomimicry” by someone. (another example could be the development of airplanes)

    These days, with the new capabilities of our technology, we are begin to uncover much more information about the natural world and it is great to see organizations attempt to spread new information.

    And remember, just because something is biomorphic, that doesn’t mean it is biomimetic. Biomimicry is much better!

  4. genitron November 27, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Good Stuff!

    For all people and Ecodesigner, we want to sign this very interesting interview with Taryn Mead from Biomimcry Guild, Interview is Italian / English:

    Good Work People!

    Daniel – – Italian Web Green Publishing

  5. ligress November 27, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    There is a fantastic presentation on about biomimicry – anyone interested shoudl really check it out. I can’t remember the author, but if you type in ‘biomimicry’, i’m sure it’ll find it. Enjoy!

  6. theokobox November 26, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Totally awesome – to see a car struture as skeletel is amazing… like why didn’t we try these things sooner?… of course we can’t beat nature- we should join it. Thanks for this beautiful post!

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