Nature is all around us. The air we breathe, the grass we walk on, the (endless) rain that falls from the sky. Hardly surprising then that its power, strength, shapes and hues provide equally endless inspiration to artists, designers and creative thinkers the world over. Close your eyes for a moment and picture a car – notice how animalistic that front grill is? Ever seen a staircase that looks like the inside of a shell? A stadium, cut not unlike an oversized bird nest? Or, ahem, a personal favourite – that chocolate bar designed to look ever so much like a mountain..?
As the sweet spot where engineering, chemistry and biology collide, biomimetics takes things one step further towards the incredible – through the synthesis of systems and materials to mimic the natural world. Imagine finding a natural alternative to plastic via the genomes of sea creatures; or how the kingfisher’s beak inspired Japan’s famous Bullet Train. And then of course there’s the direct harnessing of nature – the way that gusts of wind, sunshine, tide movements and river flow are all transformed into renewable energy.
Over the past year or so Future Positive has been working with clients in this inspirational field – companies making a difference with initiatives like geothermal energy, clean hydrogen production and sustainable lithium mining. And for me, nature has been a key source of launch and return when ideating logos, branding and end-to-end concepts.
For one client that’s pioneering sustainable, lower-impact lithium production, (a much-maligned material which is pivotal to decarbonisation through its use in electric vehicle batteries), we looked to the colours of natural settings where lithium is found – verdant green plains, lakes and arid desert – from which to draw a colour palette that went on to play out across architecture, staff clothing and stationery. To accent this an impressive mirrored sculpture of our proposed logo created a dramatic contrast by simultaneously reflecting its surroundings. These complementary factors allowed lithium production sites to blend harmoniously into their environments, appear almost hidden (unlike mines and evaporation ponds), but still retain an element of the wow factor. In my mind the result is not unlike a top-secret base worthy of any James Bond villain.
Another client produces underwater LiDAR technology which inhabits the deep blue, and offers precision capture of details on the seabed, as well as the chance to document shipwrecks and long-flooded ancient ruins. We looked at underwater sea-life for inspiration with the logo, specifically the humble jellyfish with its smooth dome shape, trailing tentacles and directional movement.
We also wanted to create a feeling of synergy between the company and its underwater workplace, so we called on a colour palette based on the ocean depths; from the froth of the surface to the dark blues of the deep. Even without thinking, we use circles when showcasing the colour palettes, the most natural form there is.
The conceptual roll-out of this project nods to nature, while respecting the environment that the client works in, which feels like a responsible approach for a company working so closely alongside Mother Earth.
So, the synergy of nature, technology and design continues to be ever-present in Future Positive’s work, particularly as we continue to collaborate with clients that are pushing the boundaries of science in harmony with the natural world. My research constantly reminds me what a precious resource our natural world is, and how, as a species we still have so much to learn from, and be inspired by.
So as you go about your business today, just take a moment to notice just how much nature has inspired some of your favourite products, packaging, transport and, if you’re anything like me, chocolate bars, too.