PolyThread Pavilion, 2016, by Jenny Sabin Studio, biomimicry applied on architecture

Biomimicry — Nature as a Mentor

Jun 14, 2019 · 8 min read

by Victor Hugo Barreto
With contributions by Sarah Brito and Rodrigo Turra;
Editor and preface by Gustavo Nogueira (Gust)

Leia aqui em Português

Sandglass is part of our ongoing program of time studies. The social infrastructure of affection in which TORUS weekly invites a specialist to share knowledge about their vision of the time around us, for about an hour. As the sand grains of our hourglass run, we strengthen our network, narrow relationships, and experiment in a safe space of knowledge exchange.

Chronos and Gaia. Cyclic time and nature. What can we learn about the relationship of humanity with time from observing all the other species around the world? We are not alone. And in our safe space of learning and exchange, we talked with Giane Brocco, founder of Amazu.Bio, and biomimicry specialist.

Gustavo Nogueira (Gust)⏳❤️

Sandglass ⧖ Torus : Biomimicry — Giane Brocco

Biomimicry is a science that studies the creative principles and strategies of nature, aiming at creating solutions for the current problems of humanity, combining functionality, aesthetics, and sustainability. The name comes from the junction of the Greek words bíos, which means life and mimesis which means imitation. Put simply, biomimicry is the imitation of life.

In fact, it is not a pure and simple imitation, it is the use of nature as an example and source of inspiration, not of appropriation. It involves, therefore, an educational role, since it is an exercise of “learning to learn” with nature.

“How to exchange old views for new, more sustainable and appropriate ones to the spirit of our time? We are in a period of transition in which we need to re-adjust and re-evaluate our industries and services. We need to rethink our leadership and our impact on the world. We are constantly invited to metamorphose who we are and what we do. Where to start?”

The intention is to learn from the systemic, less linear and more organic vision that biomimicry provides, which is the view of nature itself. For this, the biomimetic counts on a set of instruments that help in this process, such as:

1 — a methodology of its own: biomimicry thinking

A framework that helps people practice biomimetics while designing anything from four steps: definition of scope, discovery, creation, and evaluation.

2 — specific tools: life principles

They are the design lessons of nature, that is, they represent patterns found among species that survive and thrive on Earth. By learning from these deep design lessons, we can model innovative strategies, measure our projects against these sustainable benchmarks, and enable us to be guided by the principles of nature.

3 — the three essential elements of biomimetics:

Ethos, reconnect and emulate. An example of ethos application is to reflect, when realizing the design of a new product, on the reason for the creation, as well as on the importance and the impact that this product will have in the world. To reconnect is a practice and a change of thought that explores the relationship between humans and other beings of nature. To emulate is concerned with solving problems through bioinspiration, which consequently minimizes negative impacts on the planet.

Biomimetics, therefore, is not only an idea, a way of looking at nature as a project mentor, but it also brings tools of how to conduct these processes. The proposal is to use these tools to see solutions inspired by nature.

Some of the inspirations that biomimicry provided.

“Have you ever imagined a benchmark of approximately 3.8 billion years of experience to find innovative solutions? We are accustomed to benchmarks of 30, 40 or 50 years. But at the same time, we have at our disposal the source of all creations — nature. And she learned, billions of years ago, what works and what is appropriate here on Earth. Nature teaches powerful lessons on how things should be built to last. That’s where Biomimicry comes in.”

Gif by Micaël Reynaud

If make sense of it, nature actually works in a model of a regenerative economy, it does not deplete, it regenerates, it creates more life as in a mindset of abundance. The idea is that companies, people or leaders look at this operation, learn and can also create more opportunities and reproduce this in products, systems, and forms of management:

If you ask the right question for nature, it will sure give you an answer that is smart and that will bring you some kind of result or solution to your challenge. For you to seek the insights in nature you need to understand the function and not necessarily the final product. An example: a company that wants to create a bottle of water. How would nature give you a creative solution to this? Maybe if instead of asking about the product bottle, you asked about the function of water storage and how nature has innumerable answers to this, even the bottle can turn into something else. Hence the challenges for biomimicry thinking and design.”

Gaia and Chronos

The relationship between Gaia and Chronos is one of the turning points of this debate. As nature teaches us about time and how we, as a species, cannot understand time ignoring our own nature within time. Think about it: the time of humanity is not the same time as that of nature.

One film that helps to understand this is the German animation “Das rad”, in which the passage of time is shown from the same point of view by unusual characters: two cairns. It is nature observing the changes that occur around itself.

Gustavo Nogueira: “Different cycles, rhythms, times. Things have their own time. And we will only understand this when we understand the proper time of nature.”

The perspective of time is present in biomimetics also when, for example, we think about the question of purpose and function. For this, we can make a connection with the seeds, to understand ourselves like them.

A change of mindset to understand us as nature and understand our cycles in a different way. Each seed is a potential particular flower or fruit, just as we humans are also seeds with different potentials and we need favorable environments to develop ourselves.

It is important to understand and respect the journey time of this process and what it needs. Nature respects the time of each cycle and presents a system in which everyone has its purpose and function: each organism performs its function in a perfect way. With this mindset, we can collaborate in a better way. Trying to understand the function of organisms connected to our purpose.

Wholesome perspective

It is important to highlight in this journey that although we like to imagine ourselves as self-sufficient, nature reminds us otherwise. We are accustomed to seeing ourselves as machines and not as organisms, failing to have this point of view of the relationship with the other and with the world around us. We are living cells within a living organism, pulsing together.

“We forget that we are nature, too.”

Living in large cities, in an environment that values ​​urban culture and based on technological innovation alone, causes this mechanized view of ourselves to amplify into a distanced look at nature:

Felipe Meres: “It’s very interesting how, more and more, in ultra-urban cities, nature becomes an object of fetishism. It is very difficult for you to have access to organic foods (for example, and increasingly expensive too). It seems that things have reversed a bit because people can no longer identify certain foods. Nature has become something distant, exotic, which is difficult to access. And how this is turning into a product. I, for example, did a plant subscription through The Sill application, I receive in my house different species of plants with explanations about them and how to take care of them.”

source: imgur

We are living in a time of transition for which there is a return of the importance of understanding the cycles, the times required for them and the way they connect with the systems of nature. An interesting moment to be, the possibility of changing lenses and choosing how we want to put ourselves in front of nature and reconnect.

We would be leaving a century of the economy (in the sense of home management, that is, of our planet) and beginning the century of ecology. From a moment of administration and use of resources to a moment of knowing the house, the planet Earth, not as a denial of what came before, but a step to know more and to manage better.

The tools of biomimetics, therefore, bring new mindsets for brands, companies, innovation, and technology, as well as for people, management and leadership, with the motto: create conditions that allow life to thrive, create more life.

(R)evolution in every way.

Meeting participants (from left to right, top to bottom): Giane Brocco, Gustavo Nogueira, Georgia Cunha, Victor Hugo Barreto, Felipe Meres, and Rodrigo Turra.

See more Sandglass learnings here:

We are the TORUS, a global movement based in São Paulo and Amsterdam, which promotes changes in organizational cultures, as well as a cultural awakening in society.

We develop experimental and proprietary methodologies based on translating and sharing relevant knowledge about the transformations necessary for our time.

Together with a network of partners and experts around the world, we invest in original studies and the development of a safe space for learning and exchange, as social infrastructures necessary to the world today.


Time Lab


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Estudos do Tempo (Time Studies)



Time Lab

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