Ep 5: Design Secrets From Nature

Jamie Miller, Founder of Biomimicry Frontiers talks Design Secrets From Nature

There might be a different way of doing things. That’s all that biomimicry really is. It’s just recognizing that what we do may not be sustainable, and there’s a whole textbook of ideas that have been evolving for billions of years.

If there was a wise, practical, and sustainable entity out there that could provide smart and inspiring solutions to our complex lives in the build world, what or who would it be?

Nature has essentially been practicing design throughout billions of years, with millions of “design projects” under its belt. We as a human species have only begun to recognize nature’s brilliance in recent years. In this podcast, Jamie shares what he knows about nature-inspired innovation, biomimicry, and how it could help us create resilient and more sustainable environments in a city.

Jamie Miller is an award-winning designer and founder of Biomimicry Frontiers. He has been trained by Janine Benyus (the author of “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature”) and has been building biomimicry in Ontario through his consulting, lectures, and workshops since 2007. Jamie taught Canada’s only biomimicry program at OCAD University, during which he earned a PhD degree in engineering that focused on applying systems-level biomimicry to urban infrastructure resilience. His mission is to draw on biomimicry, biophilia, and ecological engineering to “make it better, naturally.”

For a transcribed version of this interview, click here.

Design thinkers and current clout

“Design thinking is fluffy” coming from two guys discussing business in a high end co-working office.

I must admit that it generates a lot of excitement and buzz when we use the term design thinking. When asked for it, many who have included it onto their résumé might not explicitly know what design thinking covers.

To clarify, design thinking is a process that is similar to the scientific method. Here’s a broad their of its progressive steps:

  1. Empathize
  2. Define
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test
  6. Iterate/Implement

Academics in the science community who follow the scientific method don’t qualify themselves as scientific thinkers. It is rather a given that they follow the scientific method as part of their protocol. On the other hand, Design thinking becomes fluffy if the people using the term don’t have an understanding of what it is, and why we have it.

Design thinking is a great thing, and I love everything about the process if it means getting to understand and solve different human problems that contribute to our culture and humanity.

We start with a question

Sustainability is such a general term that it can be paralyzing when it comes to tackling its issues. Here are some questions we want answers to:

  • What might be the reason why there is such large controversy in proving/disproving climate change?
  • Families have been using the recycling bin and bringing it out to the curb since the 1980’s. If the program has existed for so long, why is there so much confusion and contamination in recycling now?
  • Exactly how dependent is the average Canadian on oil?
  • On a human level, what would it take for us to get the ball rolling to correct the current global climate problem?
  • If the world produces more food than people can consume, where does it all go, and why can’t we simply produce less of one third of it goes to waste?
  • If people already know the environment is important, what holds most of us back from acting on what we preach?

The goal of Double Cow is to open up dialogue and awareness to the everyday person about sustainability, and that starts with asking both big and small questions.

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