-Mario De Stefano, Antonia Auletta, and Carla Langella from the 2nd University of Naples have been studying microscopic algae called diatoms. They believe humans can follow nature’s lead in seeking new sources of energy and we should explore new ways to build microscopic cellular solar panels based on biology.
In the foreground of this illustration, we see a scan from an electron microscope, which shows the blue fans of diatom colonies from the species Licmophora flabellata that have attached themselves to a grain of sand with their gelatinous anchor called a peduncle. Behind, we see the theoretical nature-inspired solar units we may one day use to harvest energy.
Design Biometic, Carla Langella
In the history of human nature has always been an important reference for conceiving innovative artifacts. Many advances in technology, design and art are born in the large basin biological inspiration.
Since the Industrial Revolution, the relationship between biology project and has acquired a particular value in terms of economic opportunities and productive. Many theorists and designers, as Sullivan , Thompson , Moholy-Nagy  and Steandman , investigated the opportunities offered by such a relationship-oriented approach to the project by offering speculation and research through which possible to reconstruct a history of bio-inspired design  , which over time has become increasingly a matrix next to the paths of scientific research and technological innovation.
Today the scenario generated by the intersection between evolution and progress of biological knowledge acquired in the new technologies offers new perspectives of relations between the project and biology, offering the design culture of new avenues for interpretation of nature, capable of set up new and fascinating scenes of action and speculation design. What distinguishes the present bio-inspiration from the past is therefore a unique opportunity to see new knowledge and tools to observe nature in its most intimate details that reveal secrets and principles once encrypted.
Transfer this knowledge to design through appropriate methods, to generate new artifacts, tangible or intangible, in which are reflected, both conceptually and in practice, some of which reveal the natural world. In this scenario places a new design approach defined: Hybrid Design, that proposes to transfer logic, codes and quality of complex biological systems to the design of sustainable products and services .
Products and services that are defined hybrids, because they are intermediate between biology and technology, designed using the tools of design but through a multidisciplinary approach which brings together expertise from the fields of biology and engineering. This methodology has been developed, tested and developed through research design and theoretical learning conducted by a trans-departmental research group under the supervision of Patrick Ranzo, president of the graduate course in Industrial Design of the Second University of Naples [The scientific contributions of engineering materials is coordinated by Carlo Santulli, University La Sapienza, and the scientific contribution of biology is coordinated by Mario De Stefano, Second University of Naples].
The progress made in recent decades in the most innovative life sciences such as molecular biology and genetics have made it possible to reveal the rationale, principles, languages and codes that underpin the design of nature. Now that the biological knowledge go deep into understanding the structures and phenomena that characterize the most intimate nature, to the nanometer scale: the ratio, a place of encouragement and inspiration, has become a field of research and innovation complex and multifaceted . In this context it is useful that the project does not just copying nature but derives, rather, a broader inspiration geared to shift principles and biological logic, according to the teachings of Buckminster Fuller who said: “We do not seek to imitate nature, But Rather she uses to find the Principles. ”
Fuller’s words succinctly sum up the orientation that characterizes today, the discipline of “bio-inspired design,” which refers to the Hybrid Design. A contest was in the fifties with bionics and evolved, then, with those subjects as defined in the Anglo-Saxon language biomimetics and biomimicry, that address the biological sciences to find solutions to design problems.
The first research that have been explicitly referred to as biomimetics, in Europe, were conducted in England, at the Centre for Biomimetics at Reading University , founded in the nineties, directed by George Jeronimidis [ Jeronimidis, G. 2000. Biomimetics: Lessons from Nature for Engineering, The Institution of Mechanical Engineerings – Materials and Mechanics of Solids Group, 35th John Player Memorial Lecture, London Jeronimidis, G. 2000. Biomimetics: Lessons from Nature for Engineering, The Institution of Mechanical Engineerings – Materials and Mechanics of Solids Group, 35th John Player Memorial Lecture, London ], which with the Centre for biomimetic and Natural Technologies (CBNT) University of Bath are the main scientific references in the international field for this discipline and are promoters of initiatives such as international conferences, workshops and research projects aimed at disseminating the objectives and results of studies conducted in this area.
In an evolutionary view of bio-inspired design, the Hybrid design is separated from the biological determinism that characterized the Bionic Classic, which he interpreted nature as essentially static model of rigor functionalist, to conceive the natural reference as a set of complex processes based on dynamic of evolution, genesis and integration of phenomena to be transferred. The proposed design approach is based, therefore, pass on the imitation of nature to go beyond morphology, through the transfer of its more complex logic, in order to design a new “hybrid design”. A design that “reinterprets” the natural world is that the artificial, creating a universe of objects and systems, which are generated by the fusion between technology and biology.
If bionics proposed to extract shapes, structures and functions by nature to create “copies” as much as possible resemble the Hybrid Design seeks to arrive at solutions to design formally very different, compared to biological systems which is inspired, but similar principles in generative.
The term “Hybrid Design” is born of inspiration from a new type of synthetic materials, obtained in the laboratory by the integration of nanotechnology with molecular biology protocols and principles [ Sarikaya, M., Tamerler, C., Jen, AK -Y., Schulten, K. and Baneyx, F.. 2003. Molecular biomimetics: nanotechnology through biology, Natural Materials, 2, 577-585 ]. From this area, which is one of the most advanced in the creation of references bioispirati artifacts, based on the translation of logical and biological codes, the Hybrid design approach draws a conceptual forerunner of artifacts with intermediate characteristics between nature and technology, whose same genesis and evolution can be defined hybrid. The Hybrid Design, therefore, looks with strong intent to transfer to areas of high scientific and technological content. These areas serve as a reference, procedural, methodological, but also a pool of tools and technologies that can be used. New materials and new technologies are the tools through which the concrete Hybrid Design concepts in bio-inspired products.
The evolutionary success of all living species is based on a complexity that science knows more and more deeply. Around this same complexity, more and more revealed by science, moves the evolutionary scenario of industrial products which, thanks to new technologies and new materials, smart, become more dynamic, adaptive, responsive and multifunctional to meet more and more mixed that arise from new and changing lifestyles of modern man. Products and services increasingly characterized by properties similar to biological systems that lead us into what Kelly in Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic Worlds envisioned in 1994 as a “techno-organic civilization” .
Design Nell’Hybrid the complex qualities derived from the biological world are transferred to the design of innovative products and services as a “new genetic code.” A code that can be extended by just one product, the innovative and complex products and services, to achieve the reconfiguration of the terms and forms relationships between production system and user system. Only through a continuous change in scale size and proposing design solutions integrated and coherent on the scale of the project until that material consumption patterns, you can offer products that can survive the dizzying fluidity of contemporary life [Bauman, Zigmund. 2002. Liquid Modernity . Bari: Laterza]. A fluid in which the products of design, material and immaterial, prompted an increasingly “experiential, emotional, seductive and interactive enabling users to establish an emotional relationship with them nearly so not rushing quickly into oblivion.
The materials and technology tools from ‘ Hybrid Design for its products are highly evolved. Through them, the aim is to create multifunctional products able to perform the functions traditionally performed by large objects, macroscopic and consisting of multiple components. Products that can be defined as systems that simple objects, which combine the environmental needs of de-materialization and reducing the number of components with the biological quality of multi-functionality, autonomy, self-organization, self-adapting, self-consistency and assembraggio hologramatic.
Innovative material solutions are preferred as offered, for example, the field of thin film smart, rolled thin and light systems, which in their structure can incorporate multiple functions such as management of information, light sensitivity, the ability to change characteristics optical and energy production. The film photovoltaics, OLEDs , deposition technologies, for example, offer the field of design can create new devices such as lighting systems, coatings and interactive communication tools light, flexible, thin and portable, which replace with a single “system of matter”, their predecessors rigid, bulky and mainly consist of many components and materials. The functionalized material tends to merge with the performance and become the essence of the product itself, by removing the dividing lines have always existed between material and object and between object and function.
The biomimetics, in which the project area is located Hybrid Design, proposes to use design tools as instruments for the integration and sharing of expertise such as TRIZ [8 ].
In many cases the technologies and materials with which to make such products already exist, but you need to define what is connected, the correlation between design problems and human responses from the biological world. For each design theme should be addressed to identify the key to the most appropriate to interpret the problems so as to relate, by analogy with the answers provided by nature. You can refer to different levels of relationships analogue, corresponding to different degrees of complexity and abstraction. But the similarities should be developed with a rigorously scientific approach so that the result is both effective and innovative.
In the research on ‘ Hybrid Design has been developing a methodology that could guide the development of the design process and provide a unique reference and the common good integration and cooperation between the different jurisdictions involved. This methodology has been divided into phases:
1. Analysis of reference and scope of the application area.
2. Interpretation of the project brief as a list of “design problems” to compare with biological references.
3. Analysis of responses to these problems and identification of artefacts available within the limitations of such solutions.
4. A vision of needs unresolved reference.
1. Develop a list of biological systems, based on a biological metaphor-design, seem to have addressed the problems identified and identification of possible analogies. At this stage it is particularly important contribution of the biological expertise).
2. Selection of biological reference, or when selected biological references are more than one, considered to be more responsive to needs and able to overcome the limitations of existing artifacts.
3. Translation of the principles, structures, logic, codes and strategies drawn from the references in selected biological design strategies, concepts, hypotheses and design.
4. Verification of technical and economic feasibility of these hypotheses, with particular attention to the opportunities offered by new technologies and new materials, with a view is sustainable innovation.
5. Preparation of final design solution. Integration of solutions of a technological and biological solutions. In this phase is particularly important technology transfer
6. Verification of the contribution of improvements over the limits and needs identified in the planning phase goal.
7. Prototyping, engineering, patent, and put into production.
Hybrid Design The design experiments are proposed to verify the methodology and conceptual approach through different types of applications conducted in several areas. Among the aspects common to the experiments showed the intention to propose new products that are not only sustainable themselves in their lifecycle, but also for their educational potential, designed to trick users into behaviors and lifestyles, too ‘they claimed.
This research proposes to act in a design for sustainability and technological innovation and scientific development intersect, in interpreting the nature and as a conceptual reference to design artifacts are compatible with nature, and as communicative potential to sensitize the audience on the issues environment and to facilitate the assimilation of ethical messages. The nature is understood, so, even as through communication.
The design experiments, although so different, they also share a potential to impact everyday life, sought to obtain a real influence and, therefore, a radical change, widespread and profound. Because today it is necessary to occur finally the transition from deep awareness of a few individuals, already sensitive to issues of environmental sustainability, the widespread awareness of so many, so the actual changes in lifestyle, and perceived changes needed to determine effective, locally and globally. Design can play an important role in assimilating to the ethical principles, but also to suggest possible directions of change and guidelines for desirable new consumption patterns using objects and services that accompany the life of man.