Celebrating Earth Day: Design Trends Inspired by Nature

Celebrating Earth Day: Design Trends Inspired by Nature

In a recent study conducted by design researchers Verma and Punekar (2021), experiments were undertaken in nature inspired design for product form generation, following protocol analysis.

Ravi Mokashi PunekarUpdated: Monday, April 22, 2024, 02:07 PM IST
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Professionals working in the creative industry across a broad spectrum of specialisations have delved deeply into understanding nature and its diverse attributes as a source of inspiration for their creations. There are classic examples from around the world. For instance, the cantilever shape of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater house, designed in 1935, mirrors the crest of a waterfall, seamlessly integrating natural elements into its design.

Similarly, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) logo features the striking panda, while the high-speed Shinkansen trains in Japan take design cues from the kingfisher bird, incorporating nature’s elegance and functionality. Other examples include the Hans J.

Wagner Ch24 chair designed in 1949, and fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s couture intricate designs, inspired by flowers, feathers, and other elements from the natural world. More recently, designers Angelina Pischikova and Rodion Kovenkin’s package design of the CS light bulb emphasises the product’s eco-friendly and sustainable qualities, showcasing the connection between light and growth.

Prof. Ravi Mokashi Punekar

Prof. Ravi Mokashi Punekar | Official

Closer to home, Indian designers such as Vibhor Sogani of Vibhor Sogani Design Studio, Alex Davis of Alex Davis Studio, Abhijit Bansod of ABD Design Studio, and Satish Gokhale of Design Directions, among others, have drawn inspiration from nature in their product and lighting design portfolios. What characterises these classic design examples is their close resemblance in terms of form and structural attributes, drawing strongly from and being in harmony with nature.

Form giving is one of the key contributions expected from designers. Form giving within the realm of nature inspired or organic design presents a unique class of design challenges that require drawing inspiration and analogies from nature. This aspect is increasingly capturing the attention of design researchers, who seek to understand the underlying approaches and methods for nature inspired design.

Understanding this phenomenon could greatly benefit design practitioners by enabling them to develop systematic and rigorous approaches to proposing nature inspired designs. Protocol analysis emerges as a prominent method for conducting such design research experiments.

These experiments involve employing think-aloud techniques and analysing audio and video recordings to deconstruct the various transformative stages of mental inquiry that designers undergo in translating their study of nature inspired sources into tangible design proposals.

In a recent study conducted by design researchers Verma and Punekar (2021), experiments were undertaken in nature inspired design for product form generation, following protocol analysis. The study involved a young team of ten product designers, aiming to understand their transformative journey from nature inspired elements to the reflection of these elements in the design of scent bottles.

The conclusions drawn from the experimental studies indicate that, during the form generation process, the designers draw inspiration from their past experiences while considering the morphological elements drawn from nature. These elements serve as triggers that designers map, drawing from deep-rooted mental imagery during the form transformation phase during ideation. Drawing from semantic associations help to seamlessly bridge mental imagery to idea sketching, influencing the designers’ strategies and judgements in visualising a diverse range of explorations during the transformative phases from ideation to tangible form generation.

These broad patterns of the creative journey could form a strong basis for developing a framework to structure design assignments in nature inspired design for creative design practitioners engaged in cradle-to-cradle design for a sustainable future.

Towards such sustainable design goals, let us draw inspiration from the works of our iconic master designers and channelise our creative energies towards good design. Let us not exploit nature, but instead, strive to integrate with it harmoniously.

Let us celebrate Earth Day, not just today, but every day.

The author is a Dean Emeritus, Product Design, Pearl Academy

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