Questioning the Theory and Practice of Biomimicry

Questioning the Theory and Practice of Biomimicry

A. Marshall S. Lozeva 

Curtin University Research Centre for Stronger Communities, Australia

Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute, Australia

31 March 2009
| Citation



Gaining inspiration from nature has a new name: biomimicry. As a supposedly novel technical practice, biomimicry makes promises about solving the world’s technological problems and environmental problems simultaneously. After posing questions about the features, assumptions and ambitions of biomimicry, it is concluded that biomimicry might be a productive way to render nature’s secrets available for commercial and industrial purposes, but for it to move society towards eco-friendliness as it’s supporters often claim, they will have to actively reconstruct the concept with the help from ecocentric ideas.


biomimicry, eco-friendliness, ecomimicry, nature


[1] Gebauer, G. & Wulf, C., Mimesis: Culture – Art – Society Trans. Don Reneau, University of California Press: Berkeley and London, 1992.

[2] Davis, M., The Poetry of Philosophy – On Aristotle’s Poetics, St Augustine’s Press, 1999.

[3] Benyus, J., Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, PerennialHarper, 2002.

[4] Bar-Cohen, J., Biomimetics: Biologically Inspired Technologies, CRC Press, 2005.

[5] Vincent, J., Design in nature. Optimisation Mechanics in Nature, eds M. Collins, G. Hunt & M.A. Atherton, WIT Press: Southampton, pp. 145–54, 2004.

[6] Hargroves, K. & Smith, M.H., Innovation inspired by nature: biomimicry. ECOS Magazine, 129, pp. 27–29, 2006.

[7] Koelman, O., Building the future of buildings. BioInspire, 20, September 2004.

[8] Butler, R., Biomimetics, technology that mimics nature. MongaBayNews, 2005.

[9] Freeman, M.M.R. & Carbyne, L., Traditional Knowledge and Renewable Resource Management in Northern Regions, Boreal Institute, University of Edmonton, 1988.

[10] Seeland, K., Nature is Culture: Indigenous Knowledge and Socio-Cultural Aspects of trees and Forests in Non-European Cultures, Intermediate Technology Publishing Group, 1997.

[11] Laurenza, D., Tadei, M. &. Zenon, E., Leonardo’s Machines: Da Vinci’s Inventions Revealed, David and Charles Publishers, 2006.

[12] Aldersley-Williams, H., Zoomorphic: A New Animal Archietcure, 2003.

[13] Greenhalgh, P., Art Nouveau 1890-1914, Harry N Abrams Publishers, 2000.

[14] Pareti, C., Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, Harper, 1989.

[15] Biomimicry Guild, 2008; available from:

[16] Waterhouse, G., The biomimetic method in industrial design. Design for Sustainability, ed. J. Birkeland,Earthscan: London, pp. 84–89, 2002.

[17] Alves, N.M.F. & Bartolo, P.J.S, Advanced reverse design through a new biologically based system. Design and Nature II: Comparing Science and Engineering, eds M.W. Collins & C.A. Brebbia, WIT Press, 2004.

[18] Duparre, J.W. & Wippermann, F.C., Micro-optical artfi cial compound eyes. Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, 1(1), pp. R1–R16, 2006.

[19] Toko, K., Biomimetic Sensor Technology, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2005.

[20] Lerner, E.J., Biomimetic nanotechnology. Industrial Physicist, August/September, pp. 16–19, 2004.

[21] Martin, D., Nanobiotechnology of Biomimetic Membranes, Springer, 2006.

[22] Ayre, M., Biomimetics applied to space exploration. Design and Nature II: Comparing Science and Engineering, eds M.W. Collins & C.A. Brebbia, WIT Press, pp. 603–612, 2004.

[23] Thakoor, S., Insectile and vermtform exploratory robots. NASA Technical Brief, 23(11), pp. 1–22, 1999.

[24] Forbes, P., Eluding the enemy. The Guardian, January 16, 2003.

[25] Mercedes, The Mercedes Benz Bionic Car, Mercedes Benz Press Kit, 2005.

[26] Teule, F., Biomimetic manufacturing of fi bers. Design and Nature II: Comparing Science and Engineering, eds M.W. Collins & C.A. Brebbia, WIT Press, pp. 483–491, 2004.

[27] Eckersley, R., Environmentalism and Political Theory: Toward an Ecocentric Approach, State University of New York Press, 1992.

[28] Drengson, A., The Practice of Technology: Exploring Technology, Ecophilosophy, and Spiritual Disciplines for Vital Links, SUNY Press: Albany, 1995.

[29] Breen, S.D., Ecocentrism, weighted interests and property theory. Environmental Politics, 10(1), pp. 36–51, 2001.

[30] Cox, T.S., et al., Prospects for developing perennial grains. BioScience, 56(8), pp. 649–659, 2006.

[31] Vincent, J., Stealing ideas from nature. Deployable Structures, ed. S. Pellegrino, Springer: Vienna, pp. 51–58, 2002.

[32] Shiva, V., Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge, South End Press, 1997.

[33] Warren, K., Ecological Feminist Philosophies, A Hypatia book, University Press: Bloomington, IN, 1996.

[34] Stach, E., Form-optimizing processes in biological structures – self-generating structures in nature based pneumatics. Design and Nature II: Comparing Science and Engineering, eds M.W. Collins & C.A. Brebbia, WIT Press, pp. 3–24, 2004.

[35] Faludi, J., Biomimicry for green design (a how to)., pp. 1–11, 2005.

[36] Schuuz, G., The Is-Ought Problem – An Investigation, Philosophical Logic Kluwer: Dordrecht, 1997.

[37] Rolston, H.I., Can and ought we follow nature? Environmental Ethics, 1, pp. 7–30, 1979.

[38] Mirowski, P., Natural Images in Economic Thought: Markets Read in Tooth and Claw, Cambridge University Press, 1994.

[39] Horigan, S., Nature and Culture in Western Discourses, Routledge: London, 1998.

[40] Marshall, A., The Unity of Nature: Wholeness and Disintegration in Ecology and Science, Imperial College Press: London, 2002.

[41] Winner, L., The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology, The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1986.

[42] Mayr, O., Authority, Liberty and Automatic Machinery in Early Modern Europe, Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, 1989.

[43] Mitcham, C., Thinking Through Technology: The Path between Engineering and Philosophy, The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1994.

[44] Holmgren, D., The Permaculture Way: Practical Steps to Creating a Self-Sustaining World, Holmgren Associates, 2002.

[45] Hemenway, T., Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Homse-Scale Permaculture, Chelsea Green Publishers, 2001.

[46] Siochi, E.J., et al., Biomimetics for NASA, NASA/TM-2002-211445, 2002.

[47] Ryn, S.V.d. & Cowan, S., Ecological Design, Island Press: Washington, DC, 2007.