Materials and designBurdock plant © Adisa



Natural selection over the past 3.8 billion years has allowed biodiversity to develop a vastly greater range of substances and structures than human designers could ever hope to imagine.  For any given environmental challenge, such as adhering to a variety of surfaces, avoiding freezing, maintaining vivid colouration, or controlling internal temperature, it is likely that some creature has developed a solution. Burdock burr © Kiorio






Velcro is a well-known product inspired by nature.  The seeds of burdock plants are covered with tiny hooks that cling to the fur (and clothing) of passing animals.  This allows the seeds to hitch a ride, helping burdock plants to spread to new locations.  Velcro was developed after its inventor observed how well the hook arrangement worked, and realised that the idea could be adapted to create a multi-purpose fastener.Velcro close-up © Caleb Sheridan





Humans have long used living organisms for artistic and technical inspiration, as well as a source of novel materials that make human life even more comfortable and enjoyable.  In this section of Natural Solutions we provide examples of recent innovations employing or inspired by natural materials.Velcro trainers. © Simon Cataudo