Tag Archives: design

Biomimicry: free online course starts 7 March

This free online course at Minneapolis College of Art and Design promises a useful introduction to biomimicry. It’s taught by Cindy Gilbert, director of the online Master of Arts in Sustainable Design program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD).

Nature offers boundless inspiration for sustainable design, but how do we access the wealth of biological information available and apply it effectively to design? This course provides an introduction to the tools and principles of biomimicry, a new discipline that emulates nature’s best ideas and blueprints in order to solve human design challenges. Each week you’ll get outside to explore nature and learn a key biomimicry design concept that you’ll then apply to develop a novel biomimetic design.


At the completion of the course, students will have:

  • Defined and applied biomimicry concepts, tools, and principles by creating novel biomimetic designs.
  • Differentiated between nature’s design principles, strategies, functions, and patterns to apply them to human-made designs.
  • Observed nature and conducted research to learn from nature through real-world, outdoor observations.
  • Employed the biological solutions database AskNature.org to serve as a research tool for design challenges.

Source: Biomimicry: A Sustainable Design Methodology – Canvas Network | Free online courses | MOOCs

To read more on this topic, see Biomimicry by Janine Benyus.

Social network Tsū opts for green – they’re in the right spectrum for connectedness

The new social network, Tsū, is banded with a clear and vivid green. Its hue is reminiscent of aspects of nature: the sea in winter, the stripes on certain kinds of leaves, the colour of chrysanthemums and orchids.

In contrast to the dull office blue of Facebook, the icy whiteness of Google+, and the foggy grey of Ello, Tsū offers users a warm and vibrant colour scheme which is soft on the eyes and somehow friendlier.

Can a simple design choice make so much difference to the attractiveness of a social network site? It seems that the biggest sites go for blue: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Foursquare all favour it. And that choice is reflected in a general worldwide preference in all kinds of situations. Blue connotes intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, duty, and logic, giving an overall sense of competence and security. It makes for a pretty safe choice.

Red however, is seen as arousing, exciting, and stimulating. It’s generally associated with activity, strength, and being up-to-date. Google+, YouTube, and Pinterest all feature red teamed with white (sincerity, purity, cleanness, simplicity, hygiene, clarity, peace, and happiness).

The only established social network coloured green is Vine where users share videos for six seconds or less in a short-lived, always-on culture of almost organic constant flux. But now there’s Tsū, a lighter and slightly bluer green than Vine, and offering a very different kind of experience.

Continue reading Social network Tsū opts for green – they’re in the right spectrum for connectedness in my column at The Conversation.

Join Tsū via my shortcode.

Technobiophilia Hackathon – apps and wearables connecting you to nature

sesi-cultura-digital-2014-header (1)I’ve been hoping that someone would come up with a technobiophilia app or, even better, a wearable. Something to enhance our digital lives by connecting us to nature, or sharpen the pleasure of the outdoors by connecting us to the internet. Something that clearly demonstrates the level of well-being to be gained from a technobiophilic lifestyle. And how about applying technobiophilic design to software and hardware? More natural materials and colours please!

With luck my wish will be answered later this month at SESI Cultura Digital in Rio de Janeiro.

I’ve been invited to set two design challenges for the Hackathon part of the event, taking place on Thursday 23rd October 2014. It’s a fantastic opportunity to apply my research to real-life problems and I’m very excited to see what participants come up with!

The brief for the Hackathon Challenge on the website is in Portuguese but I’ve posted the English version in the Technobiophilic Design section of my website. If you can’t be in Rio for the competition, but you’d like to have a go at developing something in response to the challenge, do get in touch.

You can follow the Hackathon action on Facebook and on Twitter via hashtag #scd2014 (unfortunately in the UK this matches the tag for a very popular TV show, so be warned!).

(Thanks to Amber Thomas for her invaluable help in designing the challenge)