Last night I attended the launch of Biomimics Oregon in downtown Portland, and I just had to file an instant field report. It isn’t often that you get a ring-side seat as a new discipline gains traction. Talk about energizing!
According to Janine Benyus “biomimicry is a new science that studies nature’s models and then uses these designs and processes to solve human problems.” The idea is that you should look to see how nature solves problems and use that solution as mentor, measure and model for solving vexing human problems.
Geckos possess the remarkable ability to climb vertical walls without using any adhesive glue. A gecko’s feet are covered by tiny hairs that stick to rough and smooth surfaces using van der Waals forces. Inspired by the gecko design, Ali Dhinojwala and researchers at the University of Akron have developed carbon nanotube-based gecko tapes that stick to most surfaces (even Teflon) and have self-cleaning abilities. Transmaterials.
A few years ago, I installed an exhibit on biomimicry which took over the Nike Design Library. We had modules on geckos, chameleons, iridescence, mountain goat hooves, and more. The designers loved it and I still get “remember when” notes years later. We created a very inspiring toolbox for new solutions and gained an invaluable, useful perspective we hadn’t considered.
One of my favorite colleagues from that event was Darcy Winslow, founder of Design of Designs for a Sustainable World Collective. Darcy spoke at the launch party last night. On the topic of professionalism, she told us:
If you want to be at the center of your profession you have to be at the fringe.
Let that sink in for a moment—what a wonderful contradiction. And so relevant to information professionals.
In the interest of full disclosure—and even a little chest- thumping—I’m now working with Darcy as a “citizen” at DSW. Check it out: Citizens ~ Cindy Romaine. Thrilled.