By Dayna Baumeister
Biomimicry—from the Greek, bios, meaning “life”, and mimesis, meaning “to imitate”, is an emerging dicipline with an ancient practice. Since humans first wandered the plains of Africa a quarter of a million years ago, we have turned toward our fellow planet mates for guidance on how to live well in the places we inhabited. Throughout the millennia, nature has offered lessons learned for the borrowing. Yet, the rise of the industrial revolution yielded a shift from nature as mentor to nature as resource, the consequences of which have both led to the complete colonisation of the planet by Homo sapiens, and significant indications that this wholesale strategy may not be in our or the planet’s best long-term interest.
Over the last 15 years, curious designers and innovators of all walks of life have been revisiting the inspiration and guidance from the time-tested strategies of the other 30 million species on Earth. We recognise biomimicry today as the conscious emulation of nature’s genius. Media is filled with amazing, hopeful stories from around the world of how designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and biologists are asking nature for solutions to some of the world’s most critical sustainable design challenges. Through careful emulation of biological strategies, the wisdom of the planet is changing everything from the way we create colour, communicate, and package and transport goods, to maintaining health, designing cites, and growing food. Inspiration from the smallest of organisms like termites and bees and sponges are changing the way we design buildings, manage traffic, and improve ventilation. While whales are teaching us to better harness wind, forests teach us how to manage industrial systems, and lessons from deep sea vents are transforming energy production.
By reconnecting nature with what it means to be human, our opportunities for fostering a world mentored and empowered by nature’s genius abound. And this potential lives within all of us. The next opportunity you have to spend time in nature, don’t forget to ask, “how would nature solve this?” Her answers might just create the foundation of your next brilliant and sustainable innovation.