It’s a fascinating subject, and one of those which, like many great brainwaves, has that ‘well, duh’ component to it. Study nature’s designs to see how its been doing things before trying to reinvent the [insert item here]. Well, of course!
Still, apparently it’s something that has not been part of design dogma for some time. Silly us.
The gecko is definitely getting a fair amount of attention (see here and here, for starters) at the moment over its climbing ability, but nature abounds with brilliant things, and we’re learning more and more from then, as this talk shows.
But now, there’s this: AskNature, the site Benyus is working on. Because, of course, it’s one thing to say ‘well, study Nature before you design something’, but it’s an entirely different matter to attempt to first figure out what to study, and then how to access the data on it. Particularly if it’s academic data and you are not, frankly, an academic. The site is another fine example of how freeing information up, not shutting it away, benefits everybody.