Learning from Nature to Build a More Resilient Future 1st July 2016 | IN DESIGN ADVICE | BY SBID

As part of its Beautiful Thinking campaign, global modular flooring specialist, Interface, has been working with experts who are driving real innovation in their industry and beyond to create stunning design or reduce negative impact on the environment. In this blog, Melissa Sterry, a biomimetics expert and this month’s beautiful thinker, explains how we can learn from nature’s ecosystems to lay the foundations for a more resilient and sustainable future for the built environment. 

What if hurricanes, wildfires and volcanic eruptions weren’t classed as disasters, rather crucial stages of disruption and renewal in the cycle of nature? The complex systems of nature show wide-ranging capability of adapting to threats and adversity, including events commonly perceived as ‘disasters’. This resilience is as inspirational as it is practical, and something humankind should actively embrace. By understanding the interplay and relationships between biological, meteorological and geological worlds, we can mirror the efficiencies of nature and harness its ability to withstand the tests of time.

Biomimetics is a concept that allows us to do just that, helping to answer the question: “How would nature design a city?”

By imitating nature and reworking it for use in design, we can create built environments that are more resilient and self-sufficient, while making a conscious effort towards sustainable manufacturing. The idea of learning from nature to solve sustainability challenges is a key part of Interface’s Beautiful Thinking campaign and its Negative to Positive initiative.

Launched at Clerkenwell Design Week in May, Negative to Positive builds on the momentum of the Beautiful Thinking campaign. It showcases how Interface’s Mission Zero journey – to eliminate its negative environmental impact by 2020 – has netted real results to-date, and how beautiful thinking like biomimetics is dramatically changing the built environment for the better. The campaign highlights examples of how manufacturing is not only minimising its carbon footprint, but having a positive, restorative effect on the world around us as well.

One example of Interface’s beautiful thinking and biomimetics in practice is TacTiles®, a glue-free carpet installation system from Interface. Inspired by the intermolecular force that geckos use to climb walls, TacTiles® are a system of transparent square connectors that adhere carpet tiles to each other rather than the floor. The result is a clean, efficient and durable technology that helps support a more sustainable supply chain.

When incorporated alongside our own tried and tested ways of working, biomimetics can help us unlock ever more restorative and replenishing approaches to production. In doing so, they can ensure we not only reduce the negative impact of humanity on the world around us, but have a positive effect as well. That’s beautiful thinking.

Melissa Sterry, biomimetics expert on behalf of Interface.

To learn more about Interface’s other beautiful thinkers visit: www.interface.com/EU/en-GB/about/index/beautifulthinking-en_GB