Design Movement Builds the Future by Learning from Our Biological Ancestors

Design Movement Builds the Future by Learning from Our Biological Ancestors

An institute is taking what it's learning from nature and applying it to man-made products

Leo Lutero
  • 31 march 2016

The Biomimicry Institute is doing exactly what it sounds like: pushing innovation with resources and through processes already available in nature. The institute believes that in this way, our society can build a future that’s friendlier to the environment.

The institute’s principles are fairly straightforward. Look at evolutionary miracles and let them inspire innovation. The Biomimicry Institute video, which is co-presented by celebrity sustainability advocate Leonardo DiCaprio, boasts of innovative startups harnessing ideas from nature and turning them into sustainable products.

NBD Nano, a company mentioned in the video, is developing a water bottle that can refill itself using fog collection. The technology is inspired by the desert-dwelling Namibian beetle that has microstructures turning the rare fog into water deposits.

A Danish company Aquaporin, inspired by how fish control salt levels in their bodies, uses forward osmosis to make clean water. This requires just a fraction of the energy of the alternative way to filter water because the surface is about 100x more permeable than a regular membrane.

Many similar examples target current industry practices where it happens to be normal for people to use synthetic chemistry and brute force. Instead of using toxic paint, why not use microstructures like those in peacock feathers to produce different shades of lights?

biomimicry institute psfk

Instead of using vast amounts of heat to manufacture ceramic products, why not instead used charged fields for sturdy regenerative structures like mollusks do?

biomimicry institute website psfk
This initiative plans to inspire students, scientists and inventors alike to reimagine inspiration. Instead of building upon man-made methods, they return to nature to see what innovations its developed in over 3.5 billion years of sustaining life.

PSFK has previously reported on a similar project, Machine Wilderness. This art/science concept imagines robots as if they were designed by nature so as to reverse the damage caused by human actions and creations.

Biomimicry Institute

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