Design by Nature

Last Updated Sep 23, 2008 10:17 PM EDT

I posted on the Design from Nature concept in March (see the Natural Way to Better Ideas). Today there's a round-up post on BNET, What Is Biomimicry? Whale tail
Despite comparing biomimcry to green design (there's nothing inherently green in copying nature), it's a good thumbnail, more user-friendly than my post, though it covers much of the same ground I did. It does add some intriguing tidbits on future research:

The Biomimicry Guild, PAX Scientific, and other companies are teaming up to solve some of the most common engineering problems. The organizations won't reveal where their inspiration is coming from, but they're working on solutions for improving the technology behind windmills, cooling and refrigeration systems, noise reduction, shock absorption, and moisture management. In the next year, humpback whale-inspired fan blades, developed by a Toronto-based company called WhalePower, will be hitting the market. Meanwhile an engineering group in India is studying how nature builds (and rebuilds) landscapes in a monsoon environment.

It's hard not to like a company called WhalePower -- people love anything involving charismatic megafauna. But remember that there are no guarantees in product design. Biomimetics, as the field is also known, has arguably been around since Frank Lloyd Wright and his Prairie School, which was crushed by the Bauhaus school, for better or for worse. Velcro remains the field's biggest success, and it's pushing 70. But design au naturale is definitely getting a second look.

Image courtesy wikipedia, under a Creative commons license

  • Michael Fitzgerald

    Michael Fitzgerald writes about innovation and other big ideas in business for publications like the New York Times, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc. and CIO. He’s worked as a writer or editor at Red Herring, ZDNet, TechTV and Computerworld, and has received numerous awards as a writer and editor. Most recently, his piece on the hacker collective the l0pht won the 2008 award for best trade piece from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. He was also a 2007 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion.