Integrating Biology and Design
Biomimicry Design Pathways
Challenge to Biology
If you have a design challenge in mind and can determine the function(s) that you need your design to perform, you can “ask nature” how living things do the same. We describe this as a “challenge to biology” (C2B) pathway: you start with a design challenge and actively seek inspiration and models in biology to solve it. This toolkit focuses largely on the “challenge to biology“ pathway because that pathway is the most likely to be useful in our Design Challenges program.
Biology to Design
While the “challenge to biology” approach figures more prominently in discussions of “how to do biomimicry” (including this toolkit), the “biology to design” approach is equally valid. It’s just less predictable. One can’t easily dial up inspiration without a problem in mind. Yet a remarkable number of biomimicry case studies have originated in this way, with curious observers who noticed something interesting and found a way to learn from it.
Biomimicry Design Spirals
The first tool is a pair of diagrams, called the Biomimicry Design Spirals. They were developed collaboratively by the Biomimicry Institute and the Biomimicry Guild (now Biomimicry 3.8). There is a unique diagram for each of the C2B and B2D processes.
The Design Thinking diagram and related collateral can be accessed on the Biomimicry 3.8 website.