Industrial design students use biomimicry to design products that help the environment

The California condor soars high against a bright blue sky, with its wingspan of 15 feet.

Thousands of feet below, a group of industrial design students from Long Beach State took inspiration from the creature. By studying images of the bird, they model the angular design of their air filtration system after the wings of the animal.

“We looked at how we could suck the [carbon dioxide] from the sky, ”said Helen Bibo, a fourth-year industrial design student. “It would make the air a little cleaner. Then [we asked] what we could do with the [carbon dioxide] after the filters are dirty.

The product would not only filter carbon dioxide from the air, but would store the carbon for subsequent recycling into concrete, stone, soil or fuel.

Bibo and his team are one of many industrial design groups that design products that cover a variety of environmental issues such as air pollution, coral reef bleaching, packaging material waste and gardening. sustainable.

The teams will submit their ideas to the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, an annual competition organized by the Institute of Biomimicry.

Each team must manufacture their products through the prism of “biomimicry”, a design method that draws on the biological elements of nature.

“Nature has a very good track record of designing great designs,” said Joe Reed, instructor for one of the two industrial design methodology courses participating in the challenge. “Instead of trying to use human ingenuity to solve problems, [we] rather look towards nature and the solutions already in place.

The pupils of the classes are divided into teams which will then brainstorm, research, design and produce a prototype of their product inspired by nature. It is a two semester process for students.

“As designers, of course, we love to prototype, imagine and solve problems,” said Jonah Marucchi, a third year student in the program. “This is what we do, we are professional problem solvers.”

The industrial design department of the CSULB regularly participated in the challenge and found A lot of success, as one team placed second in last year’s challenge. Several other teams have made it to the top 10 in past challenges.

“This is a project or competition that we have excelled at in the past,” Reed said. “It’s a matter of pride for the design department to excel and to have a good job. “

Another team in Reed’s class is designing a fully biodegradable packaging envelope that could replace the current envelopes used by Amazon and other major shipping companies. Most of the husk is said to be “mycelium,” a biodegradable material made from the root structure of fungi.

The team looked at the body of the Goliath beetle and mimicked the “Y” shape of its exoskeleton to create the folding patterns of the envelope flaps.

“I was watching the formation of the separation lines on the back of her hull,” said team member Hunter Ahlberg. “It’s kind of like a cool dichotomy that we were trying to emulate in our packaging.”

The teams presented drafts of their slideshows and storyboards for their videos in the design building’s junior studio on February 20.

“In the industrial design program, we’re notorious for not sleeping here,” Reed said. “Sleepless nights are a way of life in a junior studio.”

Another section of the same class, led by Shelly Takahishi, will also submit design ideas to the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge.

Submissions must be sent by May 1 and finalists will be selected in June.


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