Term Definition
Context Context refers to the specifics and constraints your Design Solution must work with. These could include the needs of stakeholders, or local environmental conditions, or economics such as the prices customers might be willing to pay for your product. Clearly understanding the context will help narrow the Design Challenge, but too many constraints might reduce creativity and innovation.
Function Function refers to an organism’s adaptation which helps it survive and thrive. For example, the purpose of bear fur is to keep warm, in technical terms its function is to conserve heat (insulation). Human products also have functions; a kettle has the functions to both contain water and heat water (modify its physical state). In brief, a function is ‘what it does.’ Importantly, Function can also refer to something you need your Design Solution to do.
Biologised Question Biologised Questions guide our research in nature. They are questions we can find answers to in nature. A good Biologised Question takes the Functions you have identified and rephases them. A good test is to see if you can logically complete the phase "How does nature ...?" Nature does not design bicycle helmets, but a good Biologised Question is "How doee nature cushion impact?"
Design Challenge A Design Challenge is an invitation to address a problem or issue. They are a statement of the problem or issue which you can choose to work on. They can be broad and require you to define them in more detail.
Design Solution A Design Solution is a response to a Design Challenge - it is how the Challenge is addressed. It might be in the form of a new product or a service, or a suggested behaviour change. Importantly, Design Solutions must be based on inspiration from nature and incorporate Nature's Unifying Patterns.
Design Principles Design Principles are considerations that form the basis of any good product or service. They are principles a designer or engineer can use to guide them and create a new product or service.
Abstracting Abstracting is the process of extracting the Strategy an organism uses to deliver a Function. It involves being clear on what Function the organism delivers, and using non-biological language to descibe how it does it. It is important to use non-biological language so that designers, engineers, architects etc can understand.
Natural Strategy Organisms meet functional needs through biological strategies. This is a characteristic, mechanism or process which performs the function for them. In the bear example, fur is the strategy for delivering insulation. In a kettle, electrical energy is transferred into physical heat which modifies the temperature of water. In brief, a strategy is ‘how it does it.’
Mechanism Mechanism is a detailed description of how a Natural Strategy works.