Biomimicry: Can beauty benefit from copying the natural world?

By Julia Wray 13-Jun-2022

The cosmetics sector has long sourced ingredients from nature, but all industries are now borrowing from how the natural world functions. Cosmetics Business asks, to what extent can beauty embrace biomimicry?

Research into the mysteries of the natural world is increasingly informing human innovation. From ultra-strong composites copying the architecture of the mantis shrimp’s punching clubs (made by Helicoid Industries, and used to strengthen turbines, aircraft and automobiles), to ECOncrete’s environmentally sensitive concrete structures that mimic the form of natural marine environments to create resilient coastlines, industries across the board are seeing the benefits of working ‘like nature’.

“Biomimicry is the conscious emulation of nature’s strategies,” explains Lex Amore, Communications Director at the Biomimicry Institute.

“It mimics the strategies that are found in nature to solve human design challenges.”

And, while we are seeing an upswell in interest in biomimicry, it is far from a modern development.

“It’s a practice that has been going on for a really long time,” says Amore. “Humans have been asking nature for guidance long before the Industrial Revolution, but, somewhere along the line, we got a little distracted and forgot how to fit into the natural world and into this ecosystem that we are very much a part of.”

Amore stresses the importance of differentiating between ‘bio-utilisation’ and biomimicry with the following analogy: “Let’s say mangroves are really good at creating resilient coastlines. Rather than planting mangroves, [biomimicry] would be asking ‘how does the mangrove actually support these coastlines?’

“After billions of years of research and development, the organisms that are alive today are our champions – they are the ones that are our mentors, our models, and they really hold the secret to our survival.

“The goal through biomimetic design is to create products, processes and systems – essentially new ways of living – that solve our greatest design challenges sustainably and in unison with all life on Earth.”

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