Be nature, copy nature


Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.

Janine Benyus is one of the leading proponents of this approach, and has outlined Nine Basic Principles:

1. Nature runs on sunlight.

2. Nature uses only the energy it needs.

3. Nature fits form to function.

4. Nature recycles everything.

5. Nature rewards cooperation.

6. Nature banks on diversity.

7. Nature demands local expertise.

8. Nature curbs excesses from within.

9. Nature taps the power of limits.


Find out more from the website of the Biomimicry Institute

Go through each of the nine principles and see if you can find an example (e.g. ‘Nature runs on sunlight’ – photosynthesis powers the existence of the biosphere).

Are there any principles missing? Anything else about nature you would want to learn from?

Discuss the idea that ‘We are nature’: Do you think human culture is within nature, beyond nature, or somewhere shifting between the two?

What would an art practice or a cultural organisation look like if you followed these principles? Choose one of the principles and explore how you might do well by copying nature in your work.

Or, to extend this, you could break up a team into groups to explore different principles, or give it plenty of time and work through each principle in turn.