Here’s a really nice article about using nature to inspire more and better ideas. There is so much out there that we have only begun to explore and use as inspiration.

How reverse engineering nature can spur design innovation

Matt Kahn’s pumpkins

October , 2011

This time of year, I always remember Matt Kahn’s design class (that I took back in mumble mumble year at Stanford). He always had a special class where we carved pumpkins. It had to respect the original folk art and be some kind of a face, though he also showed us a slide show of previous pumpkins and faces of humans and animals to get us started.

Article about the pumpkin carving class:

Article about Matt Kahn’s career in general:

Pictures from the pumpkins from 2009:

And from 2008:

What are you going to carve?

So Magnus Larsson gave this TED talk entitled “Turning Dunes into Architecture”.  His idea is to build a giant wall across Africa, to halt or at least slow down the desertification process that is happening there.  The idea is to use bacteria that bond with the sand to make it hard, something like adobe.

It’s such a very cool idea, both useful and beautiful, and I wish I had some skills or knowledge that would be useful to such a project.  But unfortunately I have a feeling that, as the saying goes, “technology is easy, politics is hard” and that the things that would stop such a project are political and social.

Vertical Farms

January , 2010

Taking the “wall of plants” idea to the next level is something called “vertical farming“.  Cool!