A Content Account of Creative Analogies in Biologically Inspired Design

The growing movement of biologically inspired design is driven in part by the need for sustainable development and in part by the recognition that nature could be a source of innovation. Biologically inspired design by definition entails cross-domain analogies from biological systems to problems in engineering and other design domains. However, the practice of biologically inspired design at present typically is ad hoc, with little systemization of either biological knowledge for the purposes of engineering design or the processes of transferring knowledge of biological designs to engineering problems. In this paper we present an intricate episode of biologically inspired engineering design that unfolded over an extended period of time. We then analyze our observations in terms of why, what, how, and when questions of analogy. This analysis contributes toward a content theory of creative analogies in the context of biologically inspired design.