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Exquisite Observation: Learning How To See and Innovate from Nature

Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s saper vedere (“knowing how to see”), participants will learn from nature’s genius. They will practice their observation skills and see how the natural world can inspire design, as it did with da Vinci, and dig deeper to see how biomimicry can lead to sustainable design.

Leonardo da Vinci considered saper vedere (“knowing how to see”) the innovator’s most important skill. He practiced the art of seeing through his drawings: it is estimated that he created more than 100,000 in his lifetime, some 6,000 of which are extant. Among the most famous are meticulous renderings of nature: bat wings that inspired designs for gliding machines and detailed sketches of human muscles, joints, and bones that informed the engineering of mechanical robots. At Emerge, a team of biologists and designers will lead a series of workshops entitled “Exquisite Observation: Learning How To See and Innovate from Nature.” Under their guidance, participants will replicate da Vinci’s creative process using observation and drawing to explore the designs of a collection of natural history artifacts. Tapping these studies, participants will then be asked to develop potential design applications. Workshop participants will receive:

  • An introduction to a selection of Da Vinci’s bio-inspired design and engineering solutions
  • An introduction to the use of a variety of tools for visualizing natural history artifacts, including hand lenses, microscopes, and smartphone zoom lenses
  • Instruction in the ecology and natural history of select natural history artifacts
  • Instruction in the basics of observing and drawing from nature
  • Guidance in the protocols for developing bio-inspired applications

Sara El-Sayed

Sara is pursing her Ph.D in food system sustainability and is a researcher at The Biomimicry Center with Dayna Baumeister on Life’s Principles. She is co-founder of Nawaya a social enterprise working to transition small scale farmer communities in Egypt into more sustainable ones through education and research. She is also co-founder of Dayma a LLC responsible for outdoor Environmental Education, teaching young adults about Biomimicry and local Egyptian communities. The life principle that best describes her work is being locally attuned and responsive.

Lily Urmann

Lily is pursing her master in Biomimicry at ASU and is working at The Biomimicry Center in developing and launching the biomimicry undergraduate certificate. This includes collaborating with key stakeholders on campus, creating an outreach and marketing plan for students, and ensuring the evolution of the program. Her role is best described as Cultivating Cooperative Relationships and Integrating Development with Growth.

Nathan Hays

Nathan Hays is a graduate student in both the ASU Master of Architecture and the ASU Biomimicry Master’s program, and is focused in sustainable design.

Christina Sullivan

Christina Sullivan was born and raised in Scottsdale, worked for the City of Scottsdale Library for nine years, and has worked for the ASU Library for five years since 2013. She is a current graduate student in the Biomimicry Masters program.

Chloé Chan

Chloé Chan graduated from ASU with a Bachelors in Entrepreneurship in 2017, and is currently a graduate student in the Biomimicry Masters program.

Rachel Ziegert

Rachel Ziegert joined the Biomimicry Master’s program in 2016, and works as an army officer in the Phoenix area.

The Biomimicry Center at ASU

The Biomimicry Center at ASU is a joint effort between ASU and Biomimicry 3.8, to facilitate biomimicry education, research, and outreach. The center offers two graduate-level online programs and are in the process of rolling out an undergraduate on-campus program. By its very nature, biomimicry is transdisciplinary, so the center fosters collaborations on campus and works with different schools and centers, and also with companies such as Biomimicry 3.8. The center is a diverse group with expertise in a broad range of disciplines.