Design with Nature
Growing up in both Colorado and Oregon has had a profound influence on my design. I often turn towards nature for inspiration and I often create design with nature in mind. Whether drawing from the color combinations, textures, or the form/function, I believe nature has always influenced my creativity and problem solving.
We’ve evolved as a species enough to understand that nature is as constant and unchangeable as it is intuitive, and rather than trying to control nature, we can benefit more by learning from it, and modelling after it.
Nature Tech is a Macrotrend that relies on the natural world for inspiration and practical design solutions, opting for simple, organic experiences over the too-technical and often convoluted processes of man-made designs that ignore or contradict the solutions available in nature. We look to what has always been here—what was here before us, and will be here after us—to instruct and inform our modern concepts of design and function.
Throughout the 20th Century, contemporary design has distanced itself from mankind’s roots. As if in perpetual desire to be seen as specifically separate and unrelated to the natural world, designs like the towering steel-framed skyscrapers of New York City led us away from the intuitive building methods and function of homes, work spaces, and modes of transportation that used the elements of nature already in motion to our benefit.
Designers like Frank Lloyd Wright and the influence of the “Prairie School” style of architecture asked consumers to notice the ways the natural world offered solutions when man worked in harmony with it. Despite the efforts of such designers, the struggle to move forward technologically has encouraged consumers to look for less natural and more mechanical ways of doing almost everything.
We’ve learned that what’s natural is what’s good for both design and consumption, and taking notes from Earth’s evolution offers design an aesthetic that combines nature’s most advanced technology with modern design values. By looking to nature for lessons on efficiency and conservation, brands can now produce items that perform well, look good, and tread lightly on the Earth.
Designers and engineers all over the world are borrowing from Nature’s blueprints—finally using a resource that has been at our fingertips for millions of years—to create intuitive, simple products that meet the modern-day consumer’s heightened performance needs. Take the Kranium helmet, for instance. Modeled after the bone and cartilage structure of a woodpecker’s skull—which is an intricate web of natural shock absorbers—this helmet recreates the same support system using cardboard, and, because it’s patterned after an extremely effective natural solution to head trauma, it actually works.
Similarly, by tracing the evolution of cars and trucks—which are inherently required to offer safety, speed, efficiency, and economy—we can pinpoint ways in which technology that mimics nature works. Take, for example, the design features of the Dodge Challenger, which looks—and acts—like a tiger ready to pounce.
The car is designed to look like its animal totem, and we can tell simply by looking at it that it promises the same cunning and agility as the hunter its features and appearance are modeled after. Likewise, trucks are made to look like charging bulls, and promise the same ox-like strength and hefty durability as their biological prototypes.
The ideal product is one that offers cutting-edge performance and pushes attributes to the max, all while feeling intuitive and second nature. These are the items we can’t live without. If we look to the natural world as a problem solver, new solutions and increased efficiency can greatly enhance all factions of the market, from interior design to energy to automobiles to the fibers of our clothing.