Do Biomimetic Students Think Outside the Box?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

254 Downloads (Pure)


Biomimetics is a recognized method in ideation for getting access to new and – for the designer – novel knowledge, which hopefully will result in more novel and useful products. But do designers actually find new knowledge, i.e. think outside the box or do they stick to well-known biological phenomena? If they concentrate on animals and plants, which they beforehand have knowledge about, it could be expected that solutions will remind of what they would have found without using biomimetics. To investigate this question, the empirical results from a university course in biomimetics have been analysed. The empirical material comprises 111 students working on 28 different functional design problems. On average teams identify 9.0 relevant biological phenomena and manage to produce a physical proof-of-principle for the selected biological analogy. 39% of the analogies can be characterised as well-known phenomena and 51% are from the animal kingdom. These numbers indicate a tendency of fixating on well-known knowledge. The authors propose that applying a simple constraintduring the search process can counteract the tendency.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED17)
PublisherDesign Society
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event21th International Conference on Engineering Design - The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 21 Aug 201725 Aug 2017


Conference21th International Conference on Engineering Design
LocationThe University of British Columbia


  • Bio-inspired design
  • Biomimetics
  • Creativity
  • Early design phases

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Do Biomimetic Students Think Outside the Box?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this