Science informed design: involving the physical and natural sciences
Eminent designers and engineers have historically been cited as inspirational polymaths with the ability to utilize a wide range of information to form a rational idea and create a concept. If educators are ever to encourage students of Design to emulate such skills then nurturing the growth of philomathic attitudes is essential. Part of that process is developing the ability to draw together observations from a far broader range of disciplines than those currently and commonly drawn upon in most design curricula, and integrating these into common practice. Biomimetics offers many opportunities in design to broaden scientific inquiry. Such approaches currently lack formality as a design methodology and are consequently relatively scarce in application, but successful outcomes tend to capture student imagination. As such, biomimetics can provide an inspirational and highly educational direction for students to take and therefore has the scope to be a powerful learning mechanism. This paper illustrates directions taken by design students of Product Design and Technology (BSc) and Industrial Design and Technology (BA). The interdisciplinary methods of studying, replicating and harnessing natural phenomena for design education and design practice demonstrates the potential as an avenue for learning that students considered inaccessible or even irrelevant. Above all it adds to the debate of designer skill sets and the need to bridge the current gulf between design practice and science.