What is Biomimicry?

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There’s been much discussion about Biomimicry in my life recently, which brings up the question – what exactly is Biomimicry?

According to A Biomimicry Primer by Janine Benyus, a biologist, innovation consultant, author of several books, including the book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, and co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, the formal definition of Biomimicry is:

learning from and then emulating natural forms, processes and ecosystems to create more sustainable designs

The core idea of Biomimicry recognizes that nature has already solved many of our present day problems: energy, food production, climate control, benign chemistry, transportation, collaboration, and more…

Simply, biomimicry means to imitate life (bios means life, mimesis mean to imitate). A balance between nature and technology, biomimicry is based on respect for, rather than domination of, the natural world. Biomimicry aims to discover sustainable solutions to everyday problems by borrowing from life’s blueprints, chemical recipes and ecosystem strategies. Biomimics seek to learn from nature; which requires design practitioners to use a new method of inquiry in order to bring us directly into relation with the natural world and life’s genius for the continuation of not just one life, but all life.

Learning from life’s genius involves three big questions:

  • What would nature do here? (nature as model)
  • What wouldn’t nature do here? (nature as measure)
  • Why or why not? (nature as mentor)

Biomimics turn to nature for inspiration – their valuable teachers are the bacteria, fungi, plants and animals of this planet – and they seek their advice at all stages of design to create products, processes and policies that are fully life-inspired, functional, sustainable and beautiful. Instead of harvesting (bioutilization) or domesticating (bioassisted), biomimics consult organisms and see nature as a source of ideas instead of a source of goods.

Biomimicry is difficult to categorize: it is a design discipline, a branch of science, a method of problem solving, a sustainability ethos, a movement, a stance toward nature, and a new way of viewing and valuing biodiversity.

So, then, how do we make the act of asking nature for advice a normal part of everyday inventing? How do we bring nature’s wisdom to all parts of our economy?

If you’re looking for more information about this fascinating topic, here are several links to get you started:

AskNature
Biomimicry Institute
Biomimicry Guild
Swedish Center for Biomimetic Fiber Engineering – Royal Institute of Technology
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

—Amy DePierre

SHINE – The Big Party

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SHINE

We’re all broken people. Some of us just hide our brokenness better than others.
Those words stung as my pastor said them last Tuesday night at the volunteer meeting for Shine.

Shine is a party my church, Flatirons Community Church, puts on for people with special needs. It’s a party for people who have never attended prom, or for people that need to know they are special and loved too. It’s a party I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer at for the four times we’ve put Shine on, and each year, I walk away with a heart overflowing with joy. I’m pretty sure my smile doesn’t leave my face that whole night. You just look around and can’t help but smile and laugh as you see and can feel the amount of joy in that room.

My heart has always beat for people with special needs. I’ve been surrounded by people in my life that remind me and keep me grounded about what really matters in life. So participating in Shine has always been something I look forward to.

This year my part in Shine included greeting and handing out nametags to the guests as they stepped out of their cars, and sometimes even limos! We cheered them on as they walked down the red carpet and entered the church building that was decorated with a Superhero theme, complete with the bat mobile, superheroes walking around etc etc!

Right after arriving, guests are fed a meal and then can play games throughout the night as well as listen to a live band and DANCE! They can also have a professional picture taken and everyone gets a swag bag at the end of the night too! Guests were given superhero capes and masks as well as items to make them glow and sparkle like glow necklaces and tiaras!

Each guest is allowed to bring one caretaker with them, and the caretaker can go to the caretaker’s suite to be pampered if they choose. Each guest also is given an escort who will be with them the whole night and who will dance the night away with them. Last I heard, there was around 1,800 guests that came and a couple thousand volunteers that helped put on the night.  Wow!

Lights, Camera, Action!

At the end of the night my heart was full. Very full. And I was reminded again of my pastor’s words. Yes, we’re all broken people. But no matter what our brokenness, we all need love and deserve to have fun and be invited to the party, and that’s what Shine is all about. Showing God’s love to others and making sure they know that they matter.

— Michaela Jenkins

Outerwork

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“There is a myth, sometimes widespread, that a person need only do inner work…that one is entirely responsible for one’s own problems; and that to cure oneself, one need only to change oneself…the fact is, a person is so formed by their surroundings, that their state of harmony depends entirely on their harmony with their surroundings.” 
— Christopher Alexander

The circular logic of this quote is what appealed to me most upon reading it. The two components: one’s state of harmony and harmony with one’s surroundings are not mutually exclusive, rather they are tightly intertwined and in constant flux. What we choose to surround ourselves with undoubtedly plays into our state of harmony. By making simple adjustments to our state of harmony, we consequently affect our surroundings.

San Carlos de Bariloche

In 2013, I quit my job of 8+ years and decided to travel through Argentina for 12 months. After living in the insanely bustling locura* of Buenos Aires for four long months, I became acutely aware of the dissonance between my personal state of harmony and the rhythm of the enormous city.  I was surrounded by things that made me feel claustrophobic, hurried, restless, and disconnected from nature.  Large parks with beautiful, ancient, gnarled trees only helped so much. My Colorado native soul yearned for cool, fresh, thin air, the smell of pine trees and forest, and an increase in elevation; it was time to move on. San Carlos de Bariloche is a mountain town nestled in the foothills of the Andes, and it would be my home for the remainder of my travels. Everywhere I looked I was surrounded by magnificent views of the jagged snow covered peaks that run nearly the entire length of the border between Chile and Argentina. Almost immediately there was an alignment, a congruence between my state of harmony and harmony with my environment. The change I made was a drastic one, however necessary for my well-being and enjoyment of the whole experience.

San Carlos de Bariloche

Whether we’re in need of a simple ‘change of scenery’ or a total re-haul is up to each of us to decide. But I would encourage you to take a look at your state of harmony and that of your surroundings. How do the two interact for you? What kinds of changes are necessary to improve one or both in your life? How can you create more accordance with your environment?

— Anna Thexton

*Locura is the Spanish word for madness

2015 Kitchen Trends

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My husband and I are in the process of updating/remodeling our Kitchen, so I have been taking advantage of this opportunity to educate myself on current and upcoming Kitchen design trends. As residential interior designers, we select and specify many of the fixed finishes, appliances, and plumbing selections that go into a home, but we usually aren’t as involved in the design of the Kitchen. It is such an involved and specialized area of expertise that most of our clients choose to work with separate Kitchen designers to determine the cabinetry layout and overall design. I was recently involved on a project where we were able to meet with the Kitchen designers and review the shop drawings; it was a fun and educational experience! It also made me aware of how many design possibilities and creative ideas are involved in Kitchen design. From TVs that lift up from underneath the countertop and spice racks hidden behind a stone slab backsplash, to pot filler and sink faucet options, there are an overwhelming number of possibilities to consider.

One area that has stood out to me has been the metal finishes used in a Kitchen. Stainless steel is a great option, but I’ve become so tired of hearing the same old thing – “stainless steel appliances and granite countertops”! There has to be more out there! So, I’ve been interested in learning what the next new, trendy finish is going to be.

One word that has been popping up over and over in my research has been WARM. Moving into 2015, the trend for metal is moving away from stainless steel and chrome, and towards warmer finishes such as oil rubbed bronze, copper and gold. I am all for this trend! I have always been a fan of warmer color palettes. One of the great things about this trend is that people can update their Kitchens with warm metal finishes relatively easily – by replacing chrome, stainless steel, or nickel faucets, cabinet hardware, and other accessories.

There are also some new finish options for appliances that I am excited about. GE has introduced a new “Slate” finish that is beautiful, functional, and easy to incorporate into existing color pallets. It is similar to stainless steel but slightly warmer and darker, and it is more of a matte finish which means … NO FINGERPRINTS!

GE Slate Appliances

Kitchen design using GE’s Slate appliances by Young’s Appliances

Whirlpool also has a new finish option – White Ice. The collection features white, mirrored-glass with silver accents (a similar look to Apple products) and looks sophisticated and clean, especially when used alongside white cabinets. They also have a Black Ice option (black mirrored-glass with silver accents).

I’m personally leaning towards the Slate finish, but I am very excited to see what debuts next and to hopefully have a break from hearing “stainless steel appliances and granite countertops” every time I turn on HGTV.

— Rachel Hoback

HAVE A POINT OF VIEW

A friend I admire for his quick wit and way of thinking – not to mention his prowess with a camera – recently posted the following words, reminding me that while, yes, art is about talent, it must also be tempered with passion, emotion, understanding and authenticity to meet needs we, the audience, didn’t realize we had. Thank you, Jason Abdilla, for sharing your art! Here’s what he had to say:

Raymond Carver wrote something that I use when thinking through my own art and when I’m challenged to give a brand or business a point of view for their work: 

Some writers have a bunch of talent; I don’t know any writers who are without it. But a unique and exact way of looking at things, and finding the right context for expressing that way of looking, that’s something else. It’s like style…It’s the writer’s particular and unmistakable signature on everything he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There’s plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to that way of looking: that writer may be around for a time. (On Writing). 

To me this means to write, photograph, design, illustrate, paint and film those things that you wish you could experience that no one else is doing. 

And if you can’t figure that out, then maybe interrogate your art and worldview a bit more. 

This is what makes disruptive ideas disruptive. It comes from a drive to meet an unmet need in as simple and surprising a way imaginable. 

Art is no different. Art that draws us in, we can call it original, is really just art with an articulate point-of-view on something, art that the creator makes because they have a need that’s not yet been met. 

We’re drawn to this originality and POV because the artists themselves share a human experience and tension with the rest of us, but they articulate it in an unexpected, honest way. 

But the inherent irony is that trying to be original is unlikely to meet a need, surprise, or engage anyone. 

It comes across as obtuse and showy, even desperate. 

It really does have to come from a place of violent obsession, heated passion, and fierce honesty about who you are and what you believe. It comes from something pretty unpleasant, actually. 

A place of frustration, anger, irritation as much from a place of unremitting joy and exuberance. Both of the latter “positive” feelings can be just as miserable as the negative ones if they don’t worm their way out of the right channel, though.

And what I’m not saying is to not emulate, even copy and borderline plagiarize art and thinking you love. I do it all the time. 

I work with some of the most talented minds in advertising and I adopt habits, philosophies, and even writing styles that I find help articulate my own nascent ideas in fresher, more brilliant ways. 

The art and points of view that you love actually identify a unique need already within you. So it’s helpful to interrogate, explore, and study their conceptual architecture. Know the mechanisms behind them that draw you in, and use them as an early template for your own point-of-view. 

Then, when the medium is mastered, get off the island and set out for your own. It’s this journey that will produce the ideas and art that satisfies both you and your audience. 

Swedish IceHotel

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I know we just made it through this holiday season… but if you’re already starting your list for next year, put me down for a visit to see this stunning hotel. That is, unless, we can travel there right now:

Photo from the 25th IceHotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, taken by Paulina Holmgren

Photo from the 25th IceHotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, taken by Paulina Holmgren

The IceHotel, located 200 km above the Arctic Circle in the small village Jukkasjärvi in Northern Sweden, is built from ice every winter and melts to nothing in the Spring.

From their website:
“Creativity is our lifeblood. Every winter for almost 25 years ICEHOTEL rises again and every time with brand new art and design. It’s about being inspired by ice as a material – our imagination is constantly challenged and so is our vision of art.

Our hotel is more than rooms and beds; it is an art project made of snow and ice that is totally unique.

At ICEHOTEL we work with frozen water from Torne River. Rising from the lake Torneträsk, Torne River is one of the few rivers in Europe that has not been used for industrial purposes and is therefore a unique source. Its natural beauty and special history is an inspiration to us and is something we believe can never be found in artificial ice.”

Keep in mind that they also offer survival courses to their guests staying in the cold accommodations, and guarantee that the rooms are never colder than -7 degrees.

Visit the IceHotel website to learn more and see the spectacular pictures of their art.

Photo from the 25th IceHotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, taken by Paulina Holmgren

Photo from the 25th IceHotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, taken by Paulina Holmgren

Welcome 2015!

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. —Ralph Waldo EmersonHappy New YearOur hope for you in the New Year is that each day brings with it a sense of newness, inspiration and wonder. May the year be bright, with fond memories for the past and warm greetings for the future. Cheers! —Associates III Interior Design

 

 

Season’s Greetings!

This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful: in a word, more alive. –Alice Waters

Christmas at Union Station

From our home to yours…

We wish you a warm, peaceful holiday season and a new year filled with good gatherings of friends and family, great health, prosperity, beauty, new inspiration and long-lasting happiness.

Here’s to a joyful present and a well-remembered past. Cheers!

Associates III Interior Design
Kari, Maggie, Debbie, Marni, Melissa, Angie, Renee, Momo, Jill B, Rachel, Michaela, Jason, Leah, Anna, Jill W, and Amy

It’s feeling a lot like…

This year’s Christmas Party was a festive, fun event full of holiday flair and fashion held at the farm to table restaurant Humboldt in uptown Denver. We had a delightful time!

Perhaps one of the best moments of the day was when Kari, our amazing owner, opened her gift from our team. We decided, as a company, to Adopt-A-Family through Family Tree, an organization that provides life-changing services to help end child abuse, domestic violence and homelessness. In operation for over three decades, Family Tree provides services to tens of thousands of people annually. Learn more about this incredible organization and its efforts to empower people to make positive, lasting changes. Find out more about how you can donate to their cause and/or volunteer your time.

Holiday of Hope for Family Tree