Biomimicry Discovering Phase

Video: Discovering Nature’s Genius. SCAD students working in Lacoste, France, during spring of 2015, video by Daniel Cheon.

The discovering phase begins with biologizing the research question. Taking the examples mentioned in the scoping phase description, the research question might be rephrased like this:

  • How does nature move organisms vertically?
  • How does nature, in particular a reef ecosystem, recruit?

From these reframed questions, the designers use several lenses for research. They may observe in nature directly to experience and see what they can learn from its dynamic processes; they may interview experts, they may consult research sources, etc… Usually, they find lots of useful information that is then sorted into categories so that champions for certain aspects of the desired function (i.e. move vertically, recruit) can be determined. Part of the data collection includes recording the information in a particular format, the function cards which are needed in the next step, the creating phase. 

Below seen are learning moments of various nature excursions, sketches from such observations and immersions, followed by function card examples. This is the moment in the process when scientific knowledge from biology and ecology is heavily activated.  


Function Cards

Below showcased are function cards to record the research data in preparation for the creating phase. When researching we define a specific function that an organism fulfills in the system, then look for the strategy use to fulfill that function, then go deeper to describe the exact mechanism of the strategy employed, and from the key aspects of the mechanism we abstract design principles that will guide the creative process. The function cards or organized to demonstrate patterns across organisms fulfilling the same function and printed in large posters to be shown during the design charette in the next phase. This work is from SCAD students working in Lacoste, France, during spring of 2014.



Sketching is a common activity when (re-)connecting and communing with nature. SCAD student work 2013–2014.

Next phase: Creating