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Nature inspired floors

We talked a lot about smart environments during Material Xperience. Biomimicry is one of the best examples of smartness in design. After all, nature has been working on upgrades, optimisation and problem solving for 3,5 billion years.

One designer who has embraced biomimicry in practice is David Oakey, a profilic carpet designer. In 1996 Interface, one of his many clients, changed course to apply sustainable principles to their products and production process.

This changed David’s life for good. He read Janine Benyus’ book on Biomimicry and was captivated by the solution-oriented and practical approach to achieving sustainability.

In his lecture at Material Xperience, David showed examples from nature that inspired designers, such as the aerodynamics of the pointed beak of the kingfisher for high-speed trains, a drift of leaves as inspiration for a carpet design, and in particular the importance of experiencing nature.

It has been scientifically proven that viewing and experiencing green plants is a boon to our health, just as exposure to natural light is. We are happier and more relaxed and we generally feel more comfortable. This seems like a plea for using more natural and bio-based materials. Interface, however, focused mainly on recycling waste plastics, which to us is potentially a huge source of new raw materials.

Another book, ‘The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One’  by Sylvia Earle, made David aware of a huge sustainability issue: taking care of the ocean as well as the land. As we all now know, our oceans have transformed into dumps into which people throw away whatever they like, thinking they’ll never see it again.

Unfortunately, the plastic soup floating in the ocean is a given, but the search for new sources of material waste may also consist of the nets of fishermen in the Philippines, which have proven an excellent source of raw material for carpets. So Interface recycles the materials, a new local industry is introduced that cleans up old fishing nets, and the local population has a new source of income, receiving a fair wage.

This creative example may serve for all designers and manufacturers incentive to look to new sources of material waste streams that may exist. Embrace The New Garbage!

Photos of the leaves in the forest: Photo by Rennett Stowe, Courtesy of The Biomimicry Institute
Photo of coral: Photo courtesy of The Biomimicry Institute