Updated: Oct 23, 2020
Biomimicry is a process focused on taking inspiration from nature and applying it to practice, while finding solutions for design and technological problems. The main goal is to find solutions for challenges we face in every day life, such as the climate crisis and sustainability, by evaluating our planet and learning how to adapt what is already there and working. Using biomimicry is nothing new, it is already used in new material developments, buildings and even in fashion, although, it becomes more and more popular as we try to live sustainably and responsibly.
To simply give you an example, look at how trees and leaves are structured. The veins of leaves and branches on trees and even our lungs follow the same distribution system. It all comes from one pipe, which branches into smaller parts and then branches again to smaller diameter. Implementing such a perfect system is mostly researched by architecture and construction, to see if we could improve distribution of electricity, water or gas in buildings.
Another case would be Japanese developers who were trying to eliminate shock waves a loud sounds of speed trains which enter tunnels. The front of the train was inspired by a bird called Kingfisher, which dives into water with minimal splash and impact.
So how can we use biomimicry in fashion? In my previous blog I mentioned using algae and fungi as new clothing materials. But, using biomimicry in clothing is not just about the shape, aerodynamics and movement of clothes, it could also be a new material, which is connected to us as an extra protective layer of skin. A layer of skin with healing capabilities, or with the ability to repair itself, or even self sanitise.
Browsing through the Biomimicry Institute website, you can see many challenges and solutions towards using biomimicry in practice. Scientists are now looking at ways of growing fabrics from E.coli bacteria, which could repair itself when damaged. Meanwhile, the Japanese company “Omikenshi”, has developed a textile created from chitosan, which is derived from chitin found in crab shells. The fabric has an incredibly soft hand feel, but also high humidity absorption and anti-allergic qualities. “Crabyon” fabric, as they call it, is totally biodegradable, environment friendly and easy to dye.
One of the problems with biomimicry, is that most of the companies who try to implement it, lack funding and therefore stuck in a design stage. Besides, there is not enough scientific support and proof that many of these suggestions work and too much time is spent on mastering a simple idea. But even when using biomimicry, we dont want these designs to last forever, we need to be able to adapt, change and improve them over time.