Bio-utilization, bio-inspiration, and bio-affiliation in design for sustainability: Biotechnology, biomimicry, and biophilic design

Carlos MONTANA HOYOS, Carlos Fiorentino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


A post-industrial society requires novel design strategies. A possible scenario is the development of bioinspired and biophilic technologies as avenues for a new type of post-industrial design, focused towards ecology and sustainable development. In relation to design and industry, diverse approaches of bio-utilization (as in bio-technology) and bioinspiration in arts, architecture and design, as well as fields of research such as Bionics, and Biomimetics are discussed. A key reference to current bio-inspiration, Biomimicry proposes using nature as model, measure and mentor. Proposing a bio-affiliation, Biophilic Design explores the benefits of nature in the built environment. The influence of biotechnology and bio-inspired design thinking in design for sustainability is widely discussed, and several examples from projects within tertiary design education are described, as practical applications of the theory. Within this framework and from the point of view of design, biotechnology can have negative environmental implications (such as bio-utilization, or simply exploiting organisms to produce materials or substances for human consumption). However, biotechnology can also have positive environmental implications too, when used adequately within DfS objectives (for example, biodegradable and compostable materials from natural renewable sources). Main conclusions of the paper are that biological approaches can have both negative as well as positive environmental and social impacts. However, imitation of 1) form, 2) function, 3) process and 4) systems from nature, as well as adequate use of biological design approaches can help designers to develop projects which are more sustainable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalThe International Journal of Designed Objects
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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