Biologist, innovation consultant, and author, Janine Benyus has dedicated her life to the idea that learning from natural models is the best way to achieve sustainable design. Through her Biomimicry Guild, she has inspired companies to look to nature as model, measure, and mentor in the design process.
She has a lot in common with Charles Eames, who said that design “depends largely on constraints.” For Benyus, it’s a matter of the way everything on earth, with the regrettable exception of most humans, learns to live within nature’s limits.
Mimicking nature’s wisdom results in products such as Quilty textile. It uses engineering on the molecular level to mimic the surface of the lotus leaf so that water and oil roll off its surface.
Benyus was recently honored with the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for her pioneering work. Her willingness to learn from the limits nature imposes recalls another Eames statement from nearly 50 years ago: “Here is one of the few effective keys to the design problem: the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible and his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints.”