Biomimicry design thinking education

a base-line exercise in preconceptions of biological analogies

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Preliminary empirical research conducted by the leading author has shown that design students using biological analogies, or models across different contexts, often misinterpreted these, intentionally or unintentionally, during design. By copying shape or form without integrating the main function of the mimicked biological model, students failed to consider the process or system directing that function when attempting to solve the design need. This article considers the first step in the development of an applicable educational model using distant analogies from nature, by means of biomimicry thinking methodology. The analysis examines results from a base-line exercise taken by students in the Minor Design with Nature during the Spring semester of Industrial Design Engineering at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in 2019, verifying that students without biomimicry training use this hollow approach automatically. This research confirms the gap between where students are at the beginning of the semester and where they need to be as expert sustainable designers when they graduate. These findings provide a starting point for future interventions in biomimicry workshops to improve systematic design thinking through structural and scientifically based iterations of analogical reasoning.