From Natures Prototypes to Natural Prototyping

Fraser Bruce, Seaton Baxter

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    Most educational courses in Product Design and Engineering feature the practice of prototyping. However, for an artefact, process or event to be defined as a prototype it needs to fulfill two conditions: 1) It should be the first model of its type, and 2) It should give rise to many copies of itself. All around us there are many examples of the offspring of successful prototypes both created by mankind’s ingenuity and by the evolutionary processes of nature. This paper is concerned primarily with these evolutionary processes and their possible simulation by designers and engineers. However, we begin by briefly reviewing the main aspects and practices of conventional prototyping before comparing this with the way in which living systems continually prototype through evolutionary means and this we call biological prototyping. Here we briefly discuss the concept of evolution in nature and also where it is used to express progress in technological systems. The link between conventional and biological prototyping is conceived through developments in biomimicry and the philosophically aligned concept of biophilia. This combination we refer to as Natural Prototyping and we then enumerate ten (10) characteristics of natural prototyping. We conclude with some suggestions on how natural prototyping could be incorporated into the curriculum for engineering and product design education.
    This European wide research conference and its association with the Design Society and the Institution of Engineering Designers is an important means for widely distributing the results of this research. This research paper is currently being revised, updated and prepared for The International Journal of Art and Design Education.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationGreat Expectations: Design Teaching, Research & Enterprise
    Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 17th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education 
    EditorsGuy Bingham, Darren Southee, John McCardle, Ahmed Kovacevic, Erik Bohemia, Brian Parkinson
    PublisherThe Design Society & The Institute of Engineering Designers
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Print)9781904670629
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2015
    Event17th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education - Design School, Loughborough Univesity, Loughborough, Leicestershire, United Kingdom
    Duration: 3 Sept 20154 Sept 2015


    Conference17th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    CityLoughborough, Leicestershire


    • Prototyping
    • nature
    • evolution
    • biomimicry
    • biophilia
    • living machines
    • Goethe


    Dive into the research topics of 'From Natures Prototypes to Natural Prototyping'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this