Biomimicry and Sustainability: Biomimicry is a term coined by biologist Janine Benyus in her 1997 book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. It refers to a new scientific field that studies nature, its models, systems, processes and elements, and then imitates or takes creative inspiration from them to solve human problems sustainably. Natural processes such as photosynthesis, natural selection and self-maintaining ecosystems can be studied to improve manufacturing, create new medicines, and harness energy. One recent example of Biomimicry was "Project TERMES." Here, a group of architects studied the ways in which termites are able to maintain constant temperature, humidity and airflow inside their mounds, regardless of external conditions. These ideas were then put into practice at Eastgate, a commercial development in Zimbabwe. Benyus advocates for a "biologist at the design table." Benyus is the recipient of many awards (including Time Magazine's Environmental Hero of 2007, along with fellow recipient Al Gore) and consults with many Fortune 500 companies.
Biomimicry focuses on natural processes or functions that humans can apply to the man-made world. Natural forms are relevant in so far as they speak to or support the function of an organism or process. In this way, Biomimicry is aligned with a fundamental principle of Modernism - form follows function. Unlike the Modernists, however, who emphasized new industrial materials and the virtues of mass production (early industrial designers), Biomimicry is directed toward natural materials and natural processes.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Masters of Arts
Corcoran College of Art + Design (Washington, D.C.)
Masters Theses from the Corcoran College of Art + Design
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