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The art of emulating life: design across biological scales!

Workshop Dates: August 3–7, 2020 (2 pm–10 pm CEST)

Faculty: Rebeca Mora & Monika Seyfried

Enrol here!

What is this workshop?

This course involves an active search and a responsive foresight; it does not involve extracting from nature, it implies learning from it. Human beings are not simply observers of nature, as if we were looking at it from a bubble. We are 100% nature. Therefore, ingenious and beautiful as well as the countless strategists on which this course is inspired, it is time to intensify the inventiveness and look for more practical applications and answers based on the sustainable, effective and even aesthetically attractive solutions that nature developed a long time ago. In general, designs, products and systems inspired by the principles of nature have the potential to be leaders in innovation, energy efficiency, production of limiting resources and sustainability in general.

The widespread separation of humans from nature in our culture is a complex story that can be connected to a few key historical events. Viewing the natural world as separated from humans is ethically troublesome and empirically untrue. In the Anthropocene, events have shown us how the fates of our species and nature are interlace. Our species control over nature is destabilising the fundamental chemistry of the global climate system. As a result, extreme weather events will contribute to millions of humans and other species as refugees. It is clear that at this point in our global ecological crisis, the survival of humanity will require a fundamental shift in our attitude toward nature: from finding out how we can dominate and manipulate nature to how we can learn from it.

This course will inspire your design ethic in a pragmatic and culturally transforming way and could be described as a remembering and a reconnection with Nature of which we are part. We will find sustainable and practical solutions to our societies problems by emulating the countless adaptations that nature’s mentors (bacteria, crustaceans, birds, plants, forests, etc.) have developed through years of evolution.


This course is designed to introduce students from different backgrounds, interests and careers the basic fundamentals of bio-inspired design from the aesthetic and also functional point of view, its methodology and its application as a design tool in creative processes. Participants have the opportunity, through dedicated time and access to sources of interest, to explore the application of these basic foundations in their own field, or area of interest. The course offers the opportunity to connect, see, feel and touch local biodiversity, and to experience the multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary nature of a design table, learning how to access and communicate with people from diverse perspectives and experiences.

What will you learn? 
This course falls within areas such as design, science, problem solving methods, sustainability and radical innovation and, according to the professional profile, answers the following driving questions:
• How can we learn from and then emulate natural forms, processes and ecosystems to create more sustainable designs?
• What would nature do here?
• How do we make the act of asking nature for advice a normal part of everyday inventing?

The acquirement of the following skills, values, attitudes and abilities will be promoted during the course:
a) an in-demand skill set for innovation, creativity and collaboration
b) an avenue for contributing to meaningful work
c) a way to bring the natural world into professional and personal lives
d) the ability to understand and generate sustainable biomimetic solutions
e) Teamwork and leadership
f) Being the change, we want to see in the world
g) Turning to nature for inspiration
h) Admiration, respect and awe for nature
i) Reinvent what you make and how you make it
j) Infusing life’s systemic wisdom into design
k) Design consciously
l) Converse with nature
m) To create conditions conducive to life
n) Oral and written communication
o) Interacting well with others, transdisciplinary and multidisciplinary connections.
p) Negotiating while inspiring trust and empathy
q) In-depth observing
r) Paradigm shifting

How will you learn it?

This course imbibes a transdisciplinary//interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary discipline that requires the interaction of professionals of different formations at the design table. The course covers the fundamental tools through lectures, practical exercises, conversations and reflections. Through work with specific tools in nature, participants will develop relationships with the other members of the course and the environment in which they are learning. Participants will be more intimately acquainted with the diversity of local species by spending time outdoors fostering an atmosphere of dialogue and exchange.

The course ends with a final presentation of the stage called “Design Laboratory,” highlighting the integration of the learning program in a set of individualized instruments for its practice, strengthening and formalizing the relationship of the participant with their professional area through group feedback, exercises, conversations and reflection. The course consists of master classes, demonstrative and theoretical-practical of the different subjects. Within the didactic principles, the principle of proximity will be implemented, where the aim is to integrate teaching as close as possible to the student’s daily life. We want to encourage free expression, creativity, brainstorming, and debates within the group.

In general, this course is characterised by problem-solving and inquiry-based learning activities with which students formulate and test their ideas, draw conclusions and inferences, and pool and convey their knowledge in a collaborative learning environment.

a. Social learning.
b. Project-based learning.
c. Inquiry, prompt students to formulate their own questions.
d. Multiple intelligences.
e. Hands-on activities.
f. Daily journal (helps the students to better understand how their own experiences contribute to the formation of their theories and observational notes, and then comparing them to another student reiterates that different backgrounds and cultures create different outlooks, while neither is wrong, both should be respected).
g. Biomimicry tool.
h. Brainstorming.
i. Design Tables


SESSION E: “DESIGN LABORATORY”; Pluridisciplinary Design table.

Is this for you?
It is recommended for a pluridisciplinary group conformed by students from different backgrounds, interests and careers. The nature of problem-solving from this perspective reflects the very essence of the transdisciplinary methodology used for creating new knowledge. First, transdisciplinary knowledge is complex and emergent, meaning the knowledge is continually changing as it is created, an idea which parallels with bioinspired solutions assumption that people have to adapt, deconstruct and recreate as needed.

Expertise needed:
Basic level


Enrol now: There is a maximum number of 20 places available for each workshop, first come first served. Enrolment will be closed when the workshops are full.