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Arts in Academics is a journal where I post ideas about creative thinking in relationship to teaching and learning. 

Entries in nature (1)


The True Story of Nature Inspired Design Innovation

The True Story of Nature Inspired Design Innovation – That is the title of my upcoming presentation at the Black Mountain College International Conference 2012, September, 28-30, 2012, Black Mountain College, Asheville, NC. 

Thematic Focus: Looking Forward at Buckminster Fuller's Legacy

Abstract: Nature has an impressive track record of solving problems. She uses only the resources necessary to get the job done in an elegant, brilliant, and collaborative way. What with her being so capable and beautiful how could we humans help but take notice? Arguably, we would do well to learn from both her failures and successes, to study her design principles, and to seek solutions to problems with respect to her example, especially in the case of developing innovations.

It is true that there is a long history of human’s being in awe of Nature. She inspires design. We can see recent evidence of this in an array of technological and structural innovations. For example, Thomas Heatherwick’s Rolling Bridgearchitectural structures that resemble avian engineered nests, and deployable structures that fold into compact shapes and autonomously unfold/expand into a different shape. In what could have revolutionary impact on the treatment of cancerous tumors, developers are now creating smart particles, self-assembling polyhedron nanostructures made from biodegradable polymers, those that contain and deliver drugs to precise locations inside the body. With stunning examples such as these, it is compelling to gain insight into the connection between Nature and human invention.

In an inspection spanning multiple eras and disciplines, we can see even more evidence of our fascination and reverence for nature. For example, consider the work of figures such as Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, William Morris, Buckminster Fuller, Peter Jon Pearce, Ross Lovegrove, Oren Lyons, Eva Zeisel, Howard Gardner, Robert Sternberg, Janine Benyus, Richard Louv, and many more.

How does the act of looking to nature enable artist’s, designer’s, and engineer’s process of discovery? What modes of inquiry facilitate creative learning? What is the motivation and benefit of looking to nature for design inspiration?

This presentation will address these questions, using art and design history as the lens for investigation, demonstrating how humans are inspired by nature’s design innovation, learning from nature’s problem solving method, and applying the lessons through research, observation, making, testing, and problem-solving –– critical investigations involved in the process of developing and creating art, products, furniture, architecture, and systems applications. The presentation will conclude with audience discussion and reflections.

Date and Time: Saturday, September 29, 12:00