Emiliania huxleyi + Great friends + Genius loci = Biweekly Biomimicry Challenge

I wonder, if Leonardo da Vinci or Mozart – provided they are still alive – would spend much time in conference rooms scribbling on whiteboards with dry-erase markers to generate their ideas? I hear, Mozart was often inspired by nature and complained that he had to think up his works indoors. Leonardo … well, we all know his take on this:

The eye, which is said to be the window of the soul, is the principal means whereby sensory awareness can most abundantly and magnificently contemplate the infinite works of nature.

If these great men spent their brainstorming sessions in board meetings, we probably would have never known such compelling masterpieces, as The Magic Flute and The Last Supper. To be truly successful, brainstorming sessions must move quickly and freely. There must be lots of laughing, positive energy, and seeding of new thoughts – be it in a group get-together or in a solitary space of your mind.

But this post is not about conducting proper brainstorming sessions: a functioning brain; some passion for a subject; a bowl of fresh fruit; and a line of trees, obstructing your view of the road, are all you really need. This post is about a challenge I got myself into, and you, my readers (yes, that’s right, all three of you!) will bear witness to my commitment.

I call it Biomeekly Challenge. Or Biomimicry Biweekly Challenge for grammar purists.

It all started with Ehux Forum meeting at the Avant-Garde Bar in Ottawa that have self-assembled into an evening filled with biomimicry, great discussions, and a screening of Inspired By Fabrics of Nature.

From left to right: Corey McMahon, Samantha Serrer, Megan Marin, Emmanuel Guerra Günzel, Charles Doiron, Lawrence Callender, Vincenzo Pagliaro, Alëna Konyk at the Avant-Garde Bar. July 26th, 2011.

One of the final exercises was about choosing an organism (preferably a local one), identifying its strategies and functions, and attempting to parallel them with our own needs. Solution-based approach as a light introduction. Emmanuel, Megan, and Charles explored bioluminescence in nature and produced a gorgeous one-page conceptual exploration sketch of a possible application in a real-world scenario. AskNature.org offers examples of some interesting organisms, that have used such function for the purposes of protection, communication, or attraction (be it a prospective mate or delicious lunch). Haha, I also love how the poster in the background (near Emmanuel's head) reflects the reality of the shot.

Biomeekly Challenge

As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous posts, my plan for the upcoming year is to organize an Undergraduate Biomimicry Challenge within an Industrial Design department at Carleton University. What better way to warm up for such venture than a personal challenge? The idea was partially cooked up after speaking with my husband about Experimental Gameplay Project. Here is their motto:

Our goal is to find new and fun ways of interacting with game spaces by rapidly prototyping a series of ideas. Every game you see on this site is the product of one person: one individual to design, code, and create artwork. Most were made in under a week.

One person spending one week on a game to see if it’s a good idea? I guess, going through tons of games means, eventually, you get something extraordinary.

So, I’m doing it. With real-world problems, using biomimicry as a design tool. One solution per every two weeks, two weeks per solution. They’ll all be posted here. Here’s the rules I’m following, so you can call me on it, if I deviate.

  1. Each challenge will be posted every two weeks. My first result is due on August 14th for easy bookkeeping. I’m assuming that I start the project tomorrow, on Sunday. There are no excuses given for sleep, or being sick, or being dead.
  2. Only local organisms are accepted as an inspiration. One of the nature’s strategies is “be locally attuned and responsive”. What better way to practice this than to study the environment around me? Following in the steps of Leonardo, my plan is to spend a lot of time in Gatineau Park.
  3. The end result must be an evidence of deeper biomimicry. All three levels (form, process, system) are accounted for to the best of my ability. No shallow it-looks-like-a-spider-it-weaves-like-a-spider crap.
  4. All graphic materials and supplementary information must be organized into a nicely looking post. I mean, everyone has to understand the solution in order to laugh at it, right?
  5. Within two weeks of the design release, I will post a necropsy of what was intended, what worked, and what didn’t. The goal is to get better at implementing biomimicry within a design process, not to post a bunch of crappy products (don’t we have enough of those already?). The delay is intended so I can get commentary on the project from the representatives of different disciplines.
  6. Withdrawal from the Biomeekly Challenge must be announced at least two solution releases in advance. I can’t do “well I’m busy this month so no post, sorry guys”, or “alright here’s the solution, by the way this is my last one!” If I do, I’m a sissy, and you are officially allowed to tp my apartment. But it better be made from recycled paper!

So, that’s the plan. Wish me luck! /Puts on The Magic Flute Overture.

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10 thoughts on “Emiliania huxleyi + Great friends + Genius loci = Biweekly Biomimicry Challenge

  1. Challenges are good for the soul. I can’t think of a better way to engage in the process. I’ll be eagerly awaiting each entry.

    • Thank you, Tim!
      I’ll be eagerly awaiting for your comments and criticism. What better way to learn about proper application of this wonderful design tool, than to hear what an interdisciplinary biologist has to say?

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