Scientific Illustration applied to Bioinspired Design. A workshop organized by Laboratório Biomimético
Biomimetic design is a creative process where scientific illustration is not an end, but the starting point for the development of projects inspired by Nature.
Motivated by this idea, Marlén López and Manuel Persa, founders of the Laboratorio Biomimético, invited me to give this workshop, to share my experience as a scientific illustrator and to introduce the methodology of scientific drawing and the field notebook.
Located in Ladines, in the heart of the Redes Natural Park (declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2001), in Asturias.
It is a space dedicated to teaching and research activity around biomimicry. The Nature that surrounds it is the main starting point in the creative process of different design areas (product, textile, graphic, systems, materials, architecture, structures, strategies…), which makes it compatible with the conservation of landscapes, the culture, the species and the ecosystems of the place.
It is a magical and inspiring place that welcomes you with open arms, and it was in these landscapes that we began the first part of the workshop, with a biomimetic walk, filling in the blank pages of our field notebook.
The Nature that surrounds us as a source of inspiration:
In the manuscripts of the Middle Ages we clearly see the errors and distortions in the representation of animals and plants, the result of the incessant copying of copies of books, without being able to observe the original model. The importance of illustration through direct observation arises centuries later, approximately from the Renaissance, where we place the beginning of the history of the Scientific Illustration.
Nature is the ideal model to draw and be inspired. Not only is it the result of millennia of evolution to create beautiful mechanisms perfectly adapted to their environment, but it is also the ORIGINAL model, free from interpretations from other viewers (as in drawing and photography). The drawings we make directly from nature are a personal interpretation based on direct observation, and help us develop our own style of design without the influence of other artists’ works.
The field notebook is a tool that helps us to think on paper and that also teaches us to OBSERVE carefully. We objectively record and document what surrounds us and arouses our curiosity. We look at its details, its forms, its construction and integration…
What does the methodology of scientific drawing contribute to the biomimetic design project?
By deeply documenting ourselves on a natural model, we are going to discover details, structures, the form and function of its different parts… It is through this observation and study that we are going to find the ideas and source of inspiration for biomimicry.
Scientific drawing forces us to record rigorous and objective information about our models, it helps us to better understand them both in their details and in their context. These same drawings can provide a valuable foundation for a design process.
Explaining a scientific concept through illustration is not always based on the hyperrealistic style. Translating complex information to make it more understandable, in most cases requires the use of abstraction, synthesis, infographics… all of these are communication tools that can be applied to graphic and product design.
In the afternoon session, we have made a brief tour of the history of Scientific Illustration and its methodology, talking about the example of Ernest Haeckel’s work and its impact on the architecture and interior design of Art Nouveau.
There was also space for the observation and drawing of some natural elements that the participants have found on the morning walk, trying out some techniques of scientific illustration, such as watercolor and ink stippling.
I want to deeply thank Marlén and Manu for receiving me in this wonderful place and for the opportunity to talk about this topic that I am passionate about.
You can learn more about the Laboratorio Biomimético at