Discovering Nature’s Designs: A Biomimicry Interactive Exhibit at Museon-Omniversum

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Abstract

We humans have drastically changed the world in the last few centuries. We have upset the balance of nature. Humanity is forgetting that we are part of nature and dependent on the earth's resources. Our take-make-dispose mindset needs to change.

Biomimicry may be a solution. It is a relatively new movement, a philosophy, that looks to nature and recognises its value. It takes inspiration from biological strategies and translates them into sustainable design solutions. Respect for nature is central to this approach.

The focus of this project was to design a playful and interactive exhibit on biomimicry that could change the visitor's perspective. This was done for Museon-Omniversum, a science museum that wanted to explore such a transformative learning experience for a new exhibit in a biomimicry zone of their current exhibition One Planet NOW!
A transformative experience is a life-changing experience. They often occur after a sense of awareness that leads to a deeper understanding of one's beliefs. By exploring the subject through hands-on activities, the chance of changing one's perspective over time increases.

This project uses the double diamond method to explore these topics. Desk research, interviews, observations and exploration of museums all contributed to defining the project direction 'Solving relatable events through biomimicry'. Events refer to a relatable situation that visitors encounter (daily). This led to a more detailed design goal:

‘Design a playful and interactive exhibition suited for families with children (8 years and up) to explore biomimicry and let them understand the usefulness of biomimicry for future problem-solving for the coming ‘biomimicry zone’ at Museon-Omniversum.

This consists of four phases:
1. Make the visitor aware of what biomimicry is and can do.
2. Encourage dialogue between families to stimulate self-reflection and deeper understanding of biomimicry by presenting information invitingly.
3. Let the visitor interact with the concept of ‘biomimicry’ in a playful way by solving ‘events’ through simplified steps taken from Biomimicry Thinking.
4. Plant a seed for future problem-solving (to use biomimicry).'

Ideas were then generated through brainstorming sessions, leading to several physical prototypes. Evaluation testing of these prototypes provided insight into the experiences and effects of the designed prototypes. These insights all contributed to the final design concept of 'Superpowers of Nature'. A concept that allows the visitor to explore and reflect on biomimicry.

Visitors explore biomimicry through an interactive choosing system. They can explore specific organisms displayed on activation blocks. After placing one of the organisms, they can explore the superpowers (biological strategies) of the organism and its corresponding biomimetic innovations. The video clips guide the visitor through a simplified version of the biomimicry thinking method. During the video clips, visitors have the opportunity to reflect on the content through open-ended questions that stimulate discussion. Finally, they are shown real-life examples related to their chosen superpower.
Overall, the exhibit is successful in addressing biomimicry. However, further modifications are needed to improve the design and to test the impact in the long term (Phase 4).