The Biomimicry Design Spiral is a design process developed to enable arriving at a design solution that references the art of nature. It follows a general outline of
- Identify The first step is to define the problem the design seeks to solve. Focus is not on what you want to design, rather what you want your design to do – Function.
- Define This step is about defining the project parameters such as budget, environmental conditions, social situations – Context
- Biologize This crucial step is to reframe the questions developed in the first steps into nature-based models, may take the form of “How does nature do [fill in the blank]…” This determines your area of research.
- Discover The learning and research phase where you gather as many examples of how nature addresses the problems you laid out in the first stages. This phase can be tedious involving perusing scientific journals and studies. Don’t get too hung up in this section however because you will revisit it many times throughout the design process – Natural Models
- Abstract Distill the information gathered into a summary statement that illustrates the core design principles, not the referenced natural influence. Example “multi-directional stabilized wind harnessing blade design”. The abstract demonstrates a real understanding of the mechanism behind the influence that you are using in your design solution.
- Emulate Putting words into action, this is where the design actually happens as you explore different ways to apply the abstract.
- Evaluate This stage happens in a reiterative fashion during design. Is your design achieving the project objectives? What areas need improvement? What works, what doesn’t.
This is called a Design Spiral because likely when you get to the Evaluate stage, some problems may be solved, but there may be new problems that need a Biomimic solution for, or unresolve problems. Then you start the process again with these problems. Just remember that journey is often as rewarding as the end goal.
Spirals are everywhere in nature because they perform so many functions. It is no wonder, then, that when Carl Hastrich set out to create a design process for biomimicry, he turned to the spiral.