In our all-consuming urban lifestyles we are losing our connection to nature and natural systems. Increasingly our lives are surrounded by fast cars, motorways and buildings, less about parklands, growing foods and productive lands. Future generations are growing up having never set foot on a farm, grown their own vegetables or learnt a craft. The new craft – technology – sits within an impermeable urban landscape.
There are however communities that are bucking this trend. In some professions and communities people are seeking to reconnect, incorporating natural systems into their operations, product and building design, being – ‘inspired by nature’.
The methodology behind using nature and natural systems for design thinking and solving of design problems is defined as Biomimicry, developed in the late 1990’s by Janine Benyus. Biomimicry 3.8, cofounded by Benyus eventually spawned The Biomimicry Institute.
Biomimicry has subsequently been adopted internationally as an approach that brings biologists together with building professionals and designers to learn from nature. The aim – to evolve closed loop buildings, products and systems that begin to rebalance our urban ecological systems and cities.
International carpet producers Interface utilise Biomimicry and closed loop systems to help them develop more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. With only seven years until the Interface Mission Zero target of 2020, Interface is undertaking operational reviews internationally in order to engage management and employees across the board to innovate change.
Recently Interface hosted a biomimicry workshop for Australian employees to elucidate potential efficiencies and manufacturing innovation. Following this a Biomimicry ideation workshop was held for Australian design professionals, as the first ‘Biomimicry 3.8’ led workshops in Australia. The workshop, introducing the Biomimicry methodology and life principles was followed by a group design challenge.
The interest in Biomimicry as a methodology is growing within Australia, with the launch of the Living Future Institute Australia last year promoting Biomimicry as one of four supported programs aimed at creating a more liveable future.
While there may only be a handful of Biomimicry certified professionals to date working in Australia, the methodology has an increasing following among design professionals, biologists, educators, and businesses leaders. The Melbourne based Biomimicry Swarm was set up late 2012 to share knowledge and ideas on local designs inspired by nature. Jane Toner, Biomimicry Certified Designer, Architect and Biomimicry Swarm leader sees the increasing interest in Biomimicry as a natural progression and reaction against so much of our urban lives.
Biomimicry training courses and workshops from one day to a one-week are now being offered worldwide, with a 1 and 2 year program being run out of the USA.