As our industrialized world becomes more tech-centric and globally interconnected, many eyes have turned towards the impact that this progress has made on our fragile planet. It’s hard to ignore the many conversations around sustainability, which can leave consumers feeling conflicted, confused and sometimes hopeless. As business leaders and brand builders, it’s within our power (and some might say responsibility) to influence the way we relate to nature and the world we leave behind for those to come. But how?
Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum in NYC, features an interactive exhibit titled Nature By Design that approaches this question from the lens of innovation. The exhibit showcases biofuturism – the emerging movement to create breakthrough innovation by emulating the way natural elements build, interact and replenish themselves. Rather than merely mimicking nature’s patterns and forms, “Designers are modeling systems, materials, and objects on biological structures to devise optimal forms, efficient techniques and processes”
Here are a few of the most impactful pieces…
Luminescent Raincoat – Made from petroleum-free, algae-based, carbon-negative plastic. By actively metabolizing carbon in the environment, the material actually enables wearers to help clean the air. This could be a huge opportunity for apparel brands to elicit positive feelings of impact from consumers with every wear.
Air-Ink – In response to pollution caused by carbon emissions from vehicles, Graviky Labs developed a device that can attached to exhaust pipes and capture tiny particles in exhaust to be converted into water-resistant ink. Imagine billboards or custom murals written entirely in this transformed pollution to describe your corporate commitment to the environment.
Michelin Concept Tire – Inspired by the design of coral growth, Michelin created an alternative, flexible, airless and biodegradable tire, totally re-imagining their primary product. How might your brand tap into nature’s inspiration to rethink the materials or designs you’ve used for decades?
Sea Slug Bandages – The Dusky Arion slug has a defense mechanism that secretes a sticky mucus that can be as much as 5 times stronger than Super Glue. Researchers have used this as a model to develop a flexible, biocompatible and super adhesive bandage with slug-like qualities. From medicine to personal care, this innovation has the potential to establish complete market differentiation for products that protect and repair our bodies and those of our loved ones.
Ocean Ultraboost Sneaker – Parley teamed up with adidas to combat the saturation of plastic clogging the oceans by turning marine plastic waste into shoes. Their product design is built from purpose and provides authenticity and inherent marketing value, all while improving the planet. How can this concept be leveraged for your brand to inspire passion and dedication from consumers through good?
To sustain our natural resources, we must learn from nature’s ability to re-imagine, re-cycle and re-invent itself. Through purposeful, sustainable innovation, we can solve some of our most challenging problems while driving bottom line growth and expanding into new revenue streams. By tapping into biofuturism, corporations have a way to invest in the future of the planet, while benefitting their own corporate future.