Bioinspired Design: Unforeseen Pathways to impact arising from AHRC funded Bioinspired Textiles Research

Lead Research Organisation: University of the Arts London
Department Name: London College of Fashion


This project addresses unforeseen pathways to impact by sharing insights and findings arising from the AHRC Leadership Fellow Bid, 'Bio-Inspired Textiles (BIT)' with new design communities and non-academic product design audiences. The overall aim of the BIT project has been 'to determine if biomimetic principles can be drawn upon: to advance sustainable textile design and production processes; to positively contribute to the circular economy; and to consequently develop an accessible framework as a template for the wider dissemination of biomimetic textile design practices as state of the art (SoA)'.
The BIT framework connects information from a comprehensive review of Biological Structural Design Elements (BSDE) led by Naleway (2015), intended for a material science audience, with processes and techniques specific to the textile disciplines using communication design and storytelling. Our research has demonstrated the value of this approach and opportunities to widen impact beyond textiles. We have also found that the BIT framework supports a model of sustainable design for resource (material and energy) efficiency, longevity and recovery (RELR). We evidence both these outcomes via the analysis of the practice of 14 funded textile makers and 38 Masters level textile students and a wider study of 134 textile practitioners. Our research has also highlighted that mind-set, lack of access to specialist knowledge and practical examples constitute the key obstacles preventing textile designers from accessing information from biology and ultimately advancing the sustainability and/or circularity of their practice.
Our communication activities designed to share our practice-based outcomes with the textile design community via social media have stimulated significant unexpected interest from the broader design community leading to a subsequent additional study of a wider range of design practices. We found significant alignment between the obstacles reported by the textile and broader design practitioner samples. The proposed activities build on the outcomes of BIT to mitigate these issues and respond to the need for practical design methodologies that enable concepts from biology to inform product and broader design disciplines. The project is guided by two key aims:

a. Share insights pertaining the BIT framework and model of sustainable design (RELR) with the product design community of practice
b. Enable stakeholders to access and investigate the positive impact of the expanded BIT renamed Bio-Inspired Design (BID) framework and sustainable design model RELR.
(Stakeholders to include representatives from product design industry, primary and secondary education (KS1-4) as well as interested public, i.e. individuals interested in a
career in design, those seeking to understand how sustainable and/or circular models can be implemented via design practice).


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