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Revision as of 13:49, 16 October 2020 by Iris Schutten (talk | contribs)

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INTRO All the theories we have explored have to do with a sustainable way of life. > more accurate: with sustainable ways of designing (life is much more broad..)?? > Your first sentence is very much "met de deur in huis vallen" - Can you give your audience a bit of a hand? Something like: Being confronted with news about climate change daily, we as a group of engaged students researched different strategies artists and designers use to deal with this. --Iris Schutten (talk) 13:26, 16 October 2020 (CEST) Therefore we named this article that way. > leave this sentence out? There are also many overlaps in the theories that have to do with taking inspiration from nature. > leave "also" out Such as in the Cradle to Cradle theory and Biomimicry. There are some downsides to the theories as well, which we will explain in the reflection. By: Loes Platenkamp, Lysbeth van der zee, Ilona Mrgole, Anna Shumeeva, Morris de Moor, Katja Heuveling


By Katja Heuveling

Biomimicry is the science and art of imitating the best biological ideas in nature to invent, improve and make human applications more sustainable. The term biomimicry comes from the contraction of the Greek words bios "life" and mimesis "imitate", literally "imitate life”. Janine Benyus first used the term biomimicry in her book. ”Biomimicry innovation inspired by nature” in 1997. She used the following definition:

· Nature as a model. Biomimicry is the art and science that studies, uses as inspiration and imitates strategies from nature to solve problems in our human societies, for example a solar cell inspired by a leaf.

· Nature as the benchmark. Biomimicry applies ecological measures to determine the "suitability "of innovations. After 3.8 billion years of evolution, nature has learned: What works. What is appropriate. Which is permanent.

· Nature as a mentor. Biomimicry is a new way of looking at and appreciating nature. It introduces an era that is not based on what we can get from nature, but what we can learn from nature.

Life has existed on earth already for 3.8 billion years. This has developed from the first basic life forms to often very advanced life forms that we now encounter in nature. Since the creation of the first life forms, the organisms and (eco) systems on Earth have 'invented' what works, what is appropriate within the context and what contributes to survival. Nature is able to use things as energy and material in the most economical way. Often the solutions developed in nature surpass human solutions, in the use of technology but also in regard to aesthetics. The solutions developed in nature are often clever, sustainable and can adapt to changing circumstances. (1)

Biomimicry can be applied on 3 levels:

Form Level: The natural form of organisms are used for inspiration. For example, mimicking the structure of a seashell leading to stronger buildings.

Process level : Natural process leading to more sustainable materials. For example, mimicking chemical processes such as photosynthesis.

System level: For example, mimicking the functional principles of an ecosystem. When we apply biomimicry to all three levels, we begin to do what all well-designed organisms have been taught to do: create conditions that promote life. (2)

> which level is most ecologica you think and why? And which levels are maybe not?

Since the publication of Benyus' book, biomimicry has received a lot of attention. Biomimicry is an emerging discipline but it is also an age-old practice. There are numerous examples from history where humans turned to nature for inspiration. “Go take your lessons in nature, that’s where our future is” a quote from Leonardo Da Vinci who was a keen observer of nature. He applied biomimicry to the study of birds in the hope of enabling human flight. He very closely observed the anatomy and flight of birds, and made numerous notes and sketches of his observations and countless sketches of proposed "flying machines". Although he was not successful with his own flying machine, his ideas lived on and were the source of inspiration for the Wright Brothers, who were also inspired by their observations of pigeons in flight. They finally did succeed in creating and flying the first airplane in 1903. (3)

"Go take your lessons in nature, that's where our future is." Leonardo da Vinci”

In addition to biomimicry, biomimetics and bionics are also used. The similarity between all these terms lies in: learning from nature. While the sustainability aspect also plays an explicit role in biomimicry in biomimetics and bionics this plays a less important role and the emphasis is more on advancing technology. (1)

An important role in biomimicry is fulfilled by the Life's Principles developed by the Biomimicry institute. The Life's Principles represent the success factors of evolution.

> what are these succes factors?

The basis of the Life's Principles is formed by the preconditions within which all life on earth takes place. Within these preconditions, life on earth has developed survival strategies. These survival strategies are the foundation of the Life's Principles. The Life's Principles represent, as it were, the design guidelines from the ecosystem. This makes biomimicry ideally suited as a design tool for sustainability. The Life's Principles play an explicit role in the design process in biomimicry. (2) You could say to be a good biomimicry-based application you should be sustainable, function well, use as little energy as possible and prevent waste.

When looking at these factors I think a good example of biomimicry is the Eastgate Building in Harare (Zimbabwe), termites are infamous for creating some of the most elaborate ventilation systems for cooling on the planet. Even in some of the hottest places, these termite mounds remain exceptionally cool inside. Using an intricate network of intentionally air pockets, the mounds create a natural ventilation system using convection. The engineering firm Arup built an entire shopping center in Zimbabwe based on this natural convection system. Currently the system uses 10 percent less energy than a traditional air-conditioned facility. (4)

> could you include a picture?

I think biomimicry is really inspiring. Nature is super smart and there is a lot we can learn from nature as makers and designers. I also think that designers could look at nature a lot more when facing a problem. Have a look into nature. How does nature solve this? We not always have to reinvent but can also learn how to adapt more. And we can create a deeper connection with nature by doing this.

I also think that designers who use the smartness of nature do need to be critical when creating a biomimicry innovation. To not just copy what they see happening in nature but make sure the whole innovation is sustainable and looked at from the life’s principles. > now that you name these again, could you be more specific about these pricniples? Take velcro for example. > please describe/ explain velco and include picture Which is an innovation inspired by nature but when you look at the production of velcro it requires fossil fuels and chemicals. velcro was looked at from a form level, but not at process and system level. At the system level, the circular economy is a good example of biomimicry, which is based on natural cycles and no waste just as in nature. We can also connect this theory to cradle to cradle because that theory is also based on the natural cycles that we see in nature and the no waste principle. I do think you need to take biomimicry seriously when creating an innovation that is also sustainable. And not just innovate to innovate.

> only when innovatimg? What does this theory mean for you?


by: Morris de Moor

A New Modernism

The time for modernism is over, in today’s global conditions, it has become essential for us as a society to start looking at the bigger picture, and to start taking action. Sustainism includes every aspect that we as social beings deal with, from food to social media. In this new style of culture complex and diverse connections between local communities are formed to create an interwoven ‘web’ of humanity. The term, introduced by Joost Elffers and Michiel Schwarz, is represented by a trefoil knot, a knot created by tieing the loose ends of a common knot together, a sign of interconnectedness. This symbol explains how in sustainism everything is connected and loops together, a circle of life. Local produce will become more accessible and sustainable lifestyles will become the new norm. The term sustainism already suggests a connection to the word ‘sustainability’, however, sustainism adds the layer of global and local connections to each other as humans by utilizing the technological advancements we have made over the decades. The concept of sustainism challenges innovators and creators to find creative solutions to link everything in our communities together and close the circularity gap in our economy. > what are the 4 princples of sustainist design (did you see the sustainist design guide, how sharing, localism, connectedness and proportionality are creating a new agenda for social design? it would be nice of you could eloborate more what tehy mean by sharing, localism, connectedness and proportionality. Also this guide also has more interesting examples

Think of a local approach to living in a global world. Information and technology is open source and accessible for everyone, but the physical materials you need to survive are sourced locally. Regressive, since living in a community that is self-sufficient seems almost ancient, while being progressive by including our technological advances as human beings to connect ourselves intellectually and combine our knowledge. (Elffers & Schwarz, 2011)


Though this new ideology sounds like a very logical way of living in this new age, it obviously comes with its challenges. With population growing consistently and overproduction is exhausting natural resources, materials have become scarce. To create self-sufficient local communities with the capabilities of the earth and technology in this age is something that would take years, maybe even decades to develop and innovate as well as be viable with the climate’s current state. (Verschuuren et al., 2014) The practical issues aside, to adapt this new model is not only a shift in the economic environment, it is also a social adaptation. Humans are social beings, through the course of history we have been conditioned to expand our presence over the entire world and focus on what makes us individuals. > expand.. individualism... is that so? what about other cultures / times??

Sustainism would require humans to act in favour of the greater good, rather than putting themselves first as it is accustomed today. (COMPAS, 2007)


An example of emerging sustainism is a platform called Amsterdam Smart City, an online platform connecting the citizens of the Dutch capitol. Inhabitants can share their opinions on regulations, services etc. Municipalities and partners such as electricity providers can learn and network to optimize every resident’s lifestyle. This shows a balance between locality, being that the app concerns the city of Amsterdam, and the global possibilities of the digital sphere. (Amsterdam Smart City, n.d.)

Another sustainist concept emerged in 2001 in Washington D.C., a program titled ‘FabLab’. This initiative was introduced to research how information could be spread physically in underrepresented communities. A ‘FabLab’ is a small physical workspace that offers tools to create and learn. While the information and instructions to operate the machinery and tools in the workspace are shared within the online global community, the execution remains local and small scale. This open source program shows how communities can benefit from local spaces to produce small scale needs, while obtaining the knowledge from a global source. (Menichinelli, 2011)


Taking everything into consideration, sustainism seems to be a quite simple approach to modern problems. However, it would take a lot of human adjusting and resource planning, for which, you need to have humanity on your side. In the examples mentioned, it shows that communities are still alive and actively looking for connections to optimize the collective lifestyle. Sustainism pushes for sustainability in a progressive way. It builds on our nature as social beings and our ability to share and innovate. Sustainism does challenge the current consumerist society, which is so ingrained in humans nowadays that it would be difficult to offer up an alternative that may seem more simplistic. Ultimately, sustainism is a term that was not ‘invented’ as much as it was given a name, as the balance between locality and global seems to be quite alive but in need of a collective boost. > what does sustainism mean for you?