Insights · July 30th, 2009

Early in 2008, I had the opportunity to work with DeVries Public Relations as they rolled out a new product for Proctor and Gamble, one of their long-term clients. The product innovated the delivery of water in cosmetic creams, building upon the Nobel Prize-winning science of acquaporins. (Read my earlier blog about DeVries and acquacurrent science here.) I was impressed with the level of innovation, and the way the DeVries team built the story of channelling water at the cellular level, taking inspiration from nature.

The fact that they called upon a futurist to put the product in the context of the future of water, was also notable.

Now another DeVries client, Sebastian Professional, has borrowed from nature as well, with Microweb Fiber, an “elastic texturizer” that imitates the flexibility, invisibility and invincibility of spider silk. (When the stylist demonstrates emulsifying the product in his palms before applying it to the model’s hair, Peter Parker comes to mind…)

Biomimicry has been a hot topic for several years now, as well as its close cousin, bio-inspiration — all part of a continuum of drawing information and inspiration from nature’s designs that goes back at least as far as DaVinci and his flying machines.

In The Gecko’s Foot, poet and science writer Peter Forbes (who, it would seem, is also taking his cue from Leonardo in his passion for both art and science), details a future of materials inspired by butterfly wings, lotus plants, and gecko’s feet.

Leonardo didn’t have nanotechnology, however, and that’s the piece that has really allowed us to penetrate nature’s structures, innovating on a micro scale previously unimaginable.

As we travel deeper into the frontier between nature’s designs and our design and engineering needs, innovations like Sebastian’s cutting edge Microfiber Web may become commonplace. But I trust we’ll retain our very human characteristic of taking inspiration from the wonders of nature — where spiders really can make your hair stand on end.

Science & Tech
Nikolas Badminton – Chief Futurist

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA, and has worked with over 300 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

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