For centuries, humans have studied nature with the aim of extracting knowledge from it and applying it for specific purposes. Using nature as a blueprint for design is also known as biomimicry. The term biomimicry comes from the Greek words ‘bios’ or life, and ‘mimesis’, meaning imitation. In this blog, more on this phenomenon and why Rynbende writes about it.
There are already many examples of biomimicry in our daily lives. Take velcro, for example. A Swiss man called George de Mestral found tiny fruits of a plant stuck in his dog’s fur and was only able to remove them from his furry friend with great difficulty. On closer inspection of these fruits, he saw tiny barbs covering their skin. Soon, he realised that this must be why they stuck so tenaciously to his dog’s fur. With this idea, he eventually developed Velcro. And let’s admit it, Velcro is a great invention with many practical applications!
Another example of biomimicry is the development of bird-friendly glass. This idea was inspired by spider cobwebs and is produced by the company Arnold Glas in Germany. Cobwebs have an ultraviolet (UV) reflective layer. Unlike humans, birds can see UV wavelengths. So birds can perceive this UV reflective layer, humans cannot. To prevent birds from flying into glass windows, Arnold Glas applied a UV reflective layer to glass panes, making it easier for birds to perceive and therefore avoid crashing into the glass. The UV-reflective layer remains undetectable to humans and our view through the glass is therefore unaffected.
Biomimicry has also played an important role in producing alcoholic refreshments. When single-celled microorganisms, popularly known as yeast, are present in oxygen-deficient conditions, a chemical reaction occurs. This reaction is known as fermentation. During the process of fermentation, sugars are converted into alcohol, and we humans are only too happy to take advantage of this. Moreover, without this process, Rynbende would simply not exist!
Although we are not sure where, when and who first started producing alcohol through fermentation, the earliest evidence of this dates to around 7000 to 6600 BC in southern China. The Chinese used a mixture of rice, honey and fruit and turned it into wine. But some illustrations, that pre-date this evidence, indicate that the practice existed even earlier. A fun fact is that us humans are not the only animals that enjoy the results of fermentation. Monkeys, elephants and bears, who all eat fruit from the ground which has started to ferment over time, also enjoy the experience. They can exhibit the same behaviour – loss of balance and loud vocalisations – as humans under the influence of too much alcohol. Fortunately, these other animal species have just not yet learned to ferment for themselves and have yet to organise rave parties.
Biomimicry should be encouraged – shapes, materials, processes and ecosystems have evolved through millions of years of natural selection, resulting in the most efficient design possible to serve a particular function. We humans can use this to increase the efficiency of our designs. This offers great social and economic benefits by increasing profits through more flexible, cheaper and efficient work, time savings and sustainable quality of products. It can also contribute to a more sustainable society by reducing material use. This counteracts environmental pollution and reduces the depletion of our raw materials. It can also be used to develop new materials that are eco-friendly and biodegradable. We can then benefit from biomimicry not only in the short term, but also for future generations.
We can even use biomimicry to intentionally give nature a helping hand. After all, a healthy ecosystem has high biodiversity. In turn, high biodiversity offers more opportunities for biomimicry. Thus, biomimicry and nature conservation can reinforce each other. So it is important that we protect nature and prevent biodiversity loss. In this way, we can continue to make the best use of this natural treasure chest of ideas.
Nature is an inexhaustible source of knowledge and inspiration for innovation. It is pre-eminently the mentor behind many human inventions. Much of nature – such as tropical rainforests and the deep sea – is still uncharted territory for humans.. Nature is also dynamic and evolution is still taking place. Potential new discoveries are constantly evolving. That is why it is important to keep our curiosity and observe the environment, whether on a micro or macro level. For you may find a brilliant new invention in your dog’s fur or in a spider web in your backyard.
7 characteristics of Rynbende Spirits
At the heart of our business is a number of themes. We call them the 7 characteristics of Rynbende Spirits. Leadership, “spirits of the seven seas”, biomimicry, culinary, time (for yourself), intercultural and majestic design. We reflect these characteristics in our products, packageneverg, company and events (community) Through the work and interest of co-founder Sjaak Pappe, biomimicry has also become one of the seven themes.
To find out more about Rynbende Spirits click here.