BioForm – learning at the intersection of science and design

Damian Palin, Sam Russell, Ferdinand F.E. Kohle, Enda O'Dowd, S. Yesim Tunali Flynn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional

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Our future designers have much to learn from the complex and highly functional systems found in nature. Creating design products that are not only human-centred but also in tune with the natural world requires our designers to be exposed to natural phenomena and scientific principles. To provide design students with a starting point, we have created BioForm: a bio-inspired design module run as part of the Product Design curricula at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), Dublin, Ireland. The module is delivered by an interdisciplinary team of designers and scientists who expose students to biologically inspired theory and practice through a series of lectures, workshops and site visits, aimed at encouraging bio-inspiration in their design practice. The students, with their growing understanding of bio-inspiration, are then challenged to design a chair, which allows them to playfully explore form and function, and to consider its impact on their design. We hope that by encouraging bio-inspiration in students’ practice they produce designs that are innovative and more environmentally sustainable. This paper reflects on the Bio-Form project’s pedagogical approach, its impact on the student’s design practice and proposes further developments for the module.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-59
Number of pages8
JournalDearquitectura: journal of architecture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • bio-inspired design
  • biomimicry
  • product design
  • learning beyond the studio
  • design and science
  • cross-disciplinary team


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