Because I find unique charm in fungi. And farms that function like prairies. And a lot of other design solutions found in nature. 'Bio' means life and ‘mimicry' means to mimic. Biomimicry is studying life (biology, ecology, nature, humanity) and then emulating concepts found in these disciplines to design deeply eloquent products, services, and systems. This is the way I introduce what is an emerging field at the intersection of design and science. Others have more in-depth definitions.
My interest biomimicry comes from a desire to spend more time outside. I’m fascinated with nature but at the same time disconnected from it. I want to explore the outdoors as part of my daily routine, not sideline it to weekend hikes and jogs in the park. Even though seemingly uneventful, I have had moments that have moved me with their profundity. In the spring of 2015, I watched the Pacific Ocean crash against the bluffs of the Oregon Coast with both grace and force. On the streets of southern Vietnam street in 2012, I felt the heat of the sun break through a cloud bringing immediate and unwanted heat to my shoulders. There is quite literally power in these moments. With these experiences in mind, I’m learning more skillful approaches to design that apply Life’s Principles (a concept created by Biomimicry 3.8 summarized below) and offer an alternative to our dependence on chemicals, heat, and pressure that currently dominate our world—from our over-engineered plastic bags to the inefficient buildings we live and work in.
I’ve found that my path to working in biomimicry is not unlike others in the field. I watched a TED Talk, I read a book and another book, and then started having conversations that have continued to blow my mind. I’ve been hooked from the start but spent years struggling to figure out exactly how to apply these ideas to my life with meaning and intention.
My penchant for strategic communication and design, on the other hand, has always proved easier to satiate in my career. Whether working in marketing or teaching English in Asia, I have always found ways to incorporate them into my work. It’s only recently that I’ve discovered a path that collects all these interests—biomimicry, design and design thinking, and strategy—and combines them through my self-designed, experiential master’s degree at Experience Institute.
After two weeks of working with Design Thinking, Community Building, Storytelling, and Operations in Chicago with the rest of my Experience Institute cohort, I’m now in New York City. I’m extremely excited to be working with the team at Terrapin Bright Green who are not only addressing inspiring and important work in biomimicry and the like, but they also seem to share my dry sense of humor. Or maybe they just feel bad for me. Time will tell.
From here, I’ll be getting further steeped in Terrapin projects and getting ready for my November trip to South Africa for a immersive biomimicry workshop. Underneath it all, I’m continuing to approach the intersection of Life's Principles, Design Thinking, and Business Model Generation in order to help technical designers thrive. The journey continues.