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Biomimicry as a Tool for Mindful Design in the Anthropocene

Authors: Dio Cramer*, Macalester College
Topics: Anthropocene, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: Anthropocene, biomimicry, design, visual art
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The challenges of the Anthropocene call upon all of us as creatives, designers, and scholars to design new methods of survival. While some geographers have addressed this abstractly, scholars tend to ignore the influence that geography can, and should, have on design. This paper draws upon literature on the Anthropocene, critical engagements with the field of biomimicry, and tools from design thinkers to develop a unique set of rules to define mindful design. Inspired by designers such as John Thackara, William McDonough and Michael Braungart, this paper defines mindful design as design that is heavily influenced by geographic context, is adaptable to feedback, and prioritizes the overall health of the Earth and its inhabitants. Biomimicry is a more recent term for the long-established practice that draws inspiration from the natural world in order to guide human-made design. This paper argues that using biomimicry as an inspiration for mindful design leads to a requirement that geographic locality must play a larger role in the design process than it typically does in practice today. This project puts these design rules into practice in a visual book influenced by the style of Rebecca Solnit's atlas series, and her ability to combine artistic communication with geographic storytelling. In this way, complex work by geographers and design thinkers is made accessible to a broader audience. Mindful design is an ever-important tool that now holds even more weight in moving us closer to, or further from, the predicted futures of climate catastrophe in the Anthropocene.

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