WIT Press

The application of bio-inspiration to human-centered product design


Free (open access)


Volume 9 (2014), Issue 3



Page Range

230 - 236

Paper DOI



WIT Press




Biologically inspired design is an emerging practice based on the premise that nature holds a vast library of strategies, processes and technologies that can lead to innovative, sustainable solutions to human problems. Around the globe, scientific and engineering research efforts in Bio-inspiration have made astonishing discoveries that have impacted future possibilities in the fields of robotics, biomedical technology and material science, amongst many other examples. Yet, despite rising evidence about Biology’s relevance to innovative design, examples demonstrating specifics about how it can be applied in the near term in consumer product design are limited. This paper presents a case study wherein Bio-inspired design was used successfully as a tool to help develop novel, viable and product concepts for a packaged-goods industry client. Specifically, emphasis will be placed on how the method of ‘biologizing the problem’ contributed to redefining the parameters of the challenge, which ultimately drove the project’s success. After receiving a focused brief for reinventing the generally unpleasant experience of bathroom shower cleaning, the first round of creative ideation yielded incremental solutions based on the goal of ‘mildew removal and extermination.’ During the second round of creative ideation, after the problem had been redefined in terms of biological strategies, an entirely different set of solutions resulted from a revised goal of ‘mildew prevention.’ Such examples of problem redefinition can be propelled by a growing number of free databases like Asknature.org, which enable designers to find useful analogies between their design goals and Biological strategies. As these databases mature, product design efforts will be able to augment their creative output with improved results.



bio-inspiration, bio-inspired design, biomimetics, biomimicry, consumer packaged goods, design process, design thinking, human-centered design, innovation, product design, sustainability