Bringing biology to the design table

I’ve posted on this blog before about the brilliant Janine Benyus and her pioneering work in biomimicry – innovation inspired by models, systems and elements in the natural world. I even devoted a chapter to it in the second edition of Live Long and Prosper.

If you’re not familiar with her work (and, frankly, even if you are), then you can do a lot worse than watch this – one of a number of videos taken at the latest Circular Economy (CE100) summit organized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation:

Get down to the nub of her talk, and she’s pretty much laying down the blueprint for the future of the manufacturing industry – a root and branch transformation from a wasteful ‘subtractive’ model (whittling an end product from big lumps of material by cutting, grinding etc.) to a zero-waste ‘additive’ one, enabled by the advent of 3D printing.

Listen to her examples – the sheer scale of functionality that can be achieved solely through structure and the layering of materials – and it becomes clear that the opportunities that lay within this technology are simply mind-boggling.

Manufacturers and the product/industrial design consultancies that support you: the time has very definitely come for you to go forth and hug a biologist!


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