guide to biomimicry

A beginner’s Guide to Biomimicry

What if the anthropogenic biomes could be part of Climate Change’s solution instead of being part of the problem? What if we could become a climate-positive society instead of being this endless burden to the planet that will drain all the resources and lead us to our own extinction? That is what biomimicry is all about. If you want to learn more about this interesting topic, a beginner’s guide into Biomimicry like this post will point you in the right direction of inspiration and innovation.

3.8 billion years path into perfection has allowed nature to develop strategies to manage and revalue carbon in different biological processes. The natural carbon cycle is a continual process of Earth’s biology that allows the natural world, including biotic and abiotic features, to regenerate and maintain a balanced ecosystem. Moreover, ecosystems have also developed mechanisms to mediate with waste and toxins. A recent study published in the Nature Ecology & Evolution journal, a team of researchers revealed that dozens of species of coastal invertebrate organisms have been able to survive and reproduce on plastic garbage that’s been floating in the ocean for years.

Micro-organisms like bacteria and fungi take the role of dealing with substances and compounds initially harmful to terrestrial and aquatic environments and breaking them down into basic substances useful to the ecosystem. Nature is incredibly adaptable and resilient. Other abiotic processes also take part in this important role such as moisture, acidity and temperature can regulate the levels of potentially harmful compounds allowing concentrations not to reach toxic levels.


Biomimicry is a technological-oriented approach to find solutions to human challenges by emulating designs and ideas found in nature. 

Biomimicry, also referred to as biomimetics, biodesign, or NII (nature-inspired innovation) is defined as the process of learning from and emulating biological forms, processes, and ecosystems tested by the environment and refined through evolution.

Nature has nearly 3.8 billion years of fine-tuned bioengineering embodied in 10-100 million species, therefore Mother Earth is unquestionably our best mentor. A beginner’s guide to biomimicry like this post is the beginning of inspiration to a greater way of thinking and living.

Learn more about this interesting topic in this beginner’s guide to biomimicry.


Humans have been learning from nature since the dawn of the homo sapiens. However, somewhere along the history’s timeline we fooled ourselves thinking that we were no longer part of the environment, we stopped working with, respecting and venerating nature and we became part of the planetary’s problem. We stopped observing nature and its wisdom, and all we created is a problem for ourselves that we now need to resolve in order to secure our own continuity in this planet. 

Although there are examples of man emulating the wisdom of our mother nature and our ancestors well back in our history, going as far back as to 6,000BCE when temples were still carved into the mountain using existing caves, it is accepted that the real pioneer of observing nature to advance our civilisation and technology is Leonardo Da Vinci. 

Although most of his inventions remained as mere drafted notes in his notebooks, his capacity for observing and emulating nature alike features for our human development makes him the father of biomimicry. Fast-forward to 1950s, American biophysicist and inventor Otto Schmitt coined the term “biomimetics”, and finally in 1997, Jenine Benyus published the book “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature” sparking the curiosity of engineers and designers all over the world on the new approach to technology innovation. 

Inventions Inspired by Nature

Inventions inspired by Nature like the ones in this beginner’s guide to biomimicry have been realised in many industries for professional purposes as well as for our daily lives.

A. 1990s Japan’s Bullet Train redesign:

The Japan’s bullet trains were causing a booming noise to the nearby inhabitants when exiting tunnels due to the accumulated compressed air around the front of the train. Through observation of the kingfisher, the chief redesigned the front of the train to be shaped like the kingfisher’s head, resulting in the train slicing the wind rather than trapping it inside the tunnels, and therefore, fixing the booming sound.

B. 1996 Harare (Zimbabwe) Eastgate Centre Mall temperature regulating technology:

Harare’s Eastgate Centre shopping mall can regulate the indoor temperature emulating termite’s mounds’ heating and cooling system. Termites keep their mounds at a steady temperature by closing and opening holes along the mound’s outer shell, allowing the air to ventilate and balance the temperature within. The Eastgate Centre achieved similar temperature regulating technology using ducts and fans, instead. It uses 10% of the energy of a conventional building of the same size.

C. 2010 wind turbines flawless turbulence solution:

Turbulence disruption flaw in wind turbines was an issue to horizontal axis wind turbines efficiency. However, this problem was solved in 2010 observing how schools of fish swam through water so close together, complimenting and compensating each other. When they rotated the axis so it pointed vertical, the turbines could be placed much closer together without disrupting the others. Increasing efficiency by up to 10x the horizontal axis.

D. Also in 2010, Morphotex textile alternative dyeing:

Australian designer Donna Sgro created a dress made from Morphotex – a fabric that imitates the microscopic structure of the wing using nanotechnology. Morpho butterflies’ wings appear cobalt blue despite lacking colour pigment. This optical illusion is due to the many layers of protein on the scales of the butterflies’ wings that refract light in different ways. This innovative sustainable fashion also saves on water and energy used in conventional dyeing. 

E. Treepod designed by Influx Studio:

These artificial trees take the working concept of trees (the Dracaena cinnabari canopy shape) and the pulmonary alveoli structure and incorporate these elements into the design of the structures with the goal of capturing catches CO2 and cleaning the urban air. The canopy structure allows maximum shading and support to install solar panels used to power the air cleaning system. Although they are not designed to replace natural trees, they supplement the working efforts of natural trees increasing in many times the CO2 absorption capacity. Additionally, these Treepods are also aesthetically acceptable which could enhance the design of a architectural or an infrastructure project.

F. FV Solar Energy:

The solar panel system mimics the way leaves harvest energy. Moreover, solar tracking systems mimicked how sunflowers tracks the sun to harvest solar energy more efficiently around the clock and throughout the seasons. Recently, more “innovation inspired by nature” has fed solar energy most recent technology delivering new ways to harvest more efficiently inspired by the common rose’ butterfly allowing to absorb more sunlight, or by leaves combining chlorophyll with carbon materials to generate renewable energy and winds in the “Ivy solar cells designed by SMIT, resulting in greater efficiency.

Circular Economy

In nature, ecosystem and their cycles do not have such thing as waste; everything has its own purpose in the clockwork of the ecosystem. Not likewise, human activities generate millions of tons of waste per year that, we expect Nature to absorb. Closing the loop in our life and our business is nothing else than modelling what nature has been practicing for millions of years. The implementation of circular economy in our supply chains will lead the pulse to a new economy truly inspired by nature. This guide to biomimicry explains you how can we, as human species, might be able to achieve this challenging goal.

Space Exploration

No other industry requires more a “radical resource efficiency, closed loops and solar radiation harvesting” more than the Space Exploration Industry. Nature holds the solutions to every challenge that astronauts will encounter in the outer space as well as to ensure the continuity of exploration programs into deep space. We just need to decode the message and unleash the potential of emulating planet Earth in the outer space.

So far, Nature has already provided scientist with solutions to the relentlessly sticky space dust that creates friction, fast deterioration of materials and restricts movements. Lotus leaves provided the required inspiration to special coatings that will repel dust from getting stuck in surfaces of different materials in space. 

Other challenge that space exploration and the colonisation of other initially inhabitable worlds such Mars will need to bridge is the creation of resilient urban living spaces capable of regenerate ecosystem services to sustain fair and just human life.

Textiles with adaptive, thermo-resistant, superhydrophobic, or self-healing qualities can be developed by understanding the structure–function relationships of many different tissues that exist in nature.In order to succeed in this endervour, it will be necessary not only to emulate the qualities of nature but to reverse-engineer the processes of nature as well, and be able to mimic a new artificial naval-space planetary ecosystem. However, most importantly, space exploration not only will require biomimicry technology but a radical swift in our understanding of the concept of what is truly necessary for a living. 


Biomimicry applied to urban sustainability should seek to restore ecosystems, create positive impacts in the environment, and deliver ecosystem services addressing resource scarcity and energy, food and water security. 

Research on closed environments like space exploration will demonstrate how radical increase in resource efficiency and regenerative systems can be achieved by looking to the nature for inspiration. Taking advantage of space exploration development, urban sustainability can greatly benefit from error-free tested and proven technology, and well backed up by strong investments.  

Looking at nature for inspiration, architects are already creating organic shapes that seem to defeat gravity and the laws of physics. From lotus shaped temples, and bird nest arenas to urban architecture resembling canopy forests sustained by contorted skinny trunks. One of the most iconic architects that first blended the geometry of nature into architectural design was Antoni Gaudi. Master pieces like La Sagrada Familia have been true inspiration for other designers to look up to the greatest genius of all times, Mother Nature, and have a taste of what might be to be as brilliant as her. 

But nature can teach us much more than just new futuristic shapes. Looking at how forests storage water during the rainy season for later can inspire to better manage rainfall resources. Even multicellular systems like our human body will one day give us a glimpse to the solution of a truly sustainable urban mobility. We just need to observe. Inspiration might come from anywhere in any shape or form, from macro-systems like habitats, animals and plants, to more tinny system like insects or microsystems like bacteria or mold. Inspiration might come from features, characteristics, specific behaviours or biological processes. 

Cities of the future may well look like honeycomb organic cities, burrow landscaped skylines or coral reef metropolis. Those cities will provide the necessary resources for the human living, as well as the social and economic requirements for a fair, just and resilient society. However, the main goal of these cities should be to create value and achieve interdependency with other communities and the natural ecosystems, capable of giving as much value back as these communities take. 

That future is still decades away but studying how the processes found in nature can be applied to Urban Development will provide solutions to humanity’s most challenging problems, like combatting climate change and building sustainable cities. The way we perceive furniture will not be excluded which should facilitate the inter-relationships between humans and the living environment. Looking at how ants stay at float in water, or how trees withstand extreme weather events might help to find ways to climate change phenomenon. Replicating the bone or eggshells biochemistry might provide sustainable construction with new materials to build stronger and yet low carbon buildings. In a nutshell, employing biomimicry to urban development should provide solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss by radical resource efficiency, closed loops, and drawing energy from the sun.


This guide to biomimicry shows that learning from nature has allowed human species to break glass ceilings in technological research and advancement helping our civilisation to evolve. Many industries have benefited from lessons learnt extracted from our beloved planet Earth and it will continue teaching us in other emerging industries yet to come and conquer. 

Despite the great free access to this natural observatory that has fostered the technological development of our civilization, humans are yet the less connected species to the global ecosystem. Instead, we seem to be literally biting the hand that feeds us. 

We need to emulate nature in our own behaviours too if we want to survive. We need to learn to take only what it is necessary. This is not an easy task, as it will take generations to complete this goal. The most difficult step is to start the engine and put it in motion. The survival of the human species depends on us, this is the task we have been given and we must be strong to complete the assignment.

Therefore, human beings also require a full 180° lifestyle swift and return to our roots when we also were contributors to this well-balanced global ecosystem. We must find ways to restore ecosystems, create positive impacts in the environment, and deliver ecosystem services to contribute to the global ecosystem the same way that all organisms of nature do to ensure that they can continue doing their bit for the Planet. 

This beginner’s guide to biomimicry teach you that our technological inspired inventions alone will not combat Climate Change and resource scarcity, but only in combination with an emulated natural inspired behaviour as well for resource consumption will achieve the sustainable society of the future.

Did you find this guide to biomimicry useful? Please leave us your comments. We would like to hear from you and improve our content to better serve you!