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Biomimicry in Umeå

Each year the Umeå Institute of Design organizes their Prototyping the Future week: a week in which all students and staff engage in a diverse set of workshops, to find out what the future holds. A week to explore the latest developments for product design, and to adjust the curriculum of the institute in a co-creative and flexible way. IDEAL&CO’s biomimicry specialists Ernst-Jan Mul (product developer) and Niek Lamers (biologist) were invited to do a five-day long workshop on Biomimicry in Product Design. A selected group of participants dived into the natural world. Together with the Swedish professor in ecology Lars Östlund, they discovered how ecosystems work and can co-operate with human behavior. At a reptile house, they studied living animals and their specific adaptations for their habitats. Overall the workshop simulated an entire, full-fledged Bio-inspired design process. The result was an ecosystem of products: each group had their own presentation poster of a product-system concept. But because of the focus of the week on making connections between the products and the environment, all three product systems connected with each other: they formed one integrated food-production, communication, and transport system. The Prototyping the Future week is a great initiative of the Umeå Institute of Design. It gives rise to a very inspiring climate to exchange ideas between students, staffs and workshop facilitators.