Nature-Inspired Product Design: Exploring the inspiration approaches of Finnish product designers

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Bachelor's thesis
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Bachelor's Programme in Design
56 + 25
This thesis explores how Finnish product designers draw inspiration from the aesthetics, forms, and sensory perceptions found in nature. Despite the recognised value of nature-inspired approaches in fields such as biomimicry and biophilic design, their practical application in product design remains unexplored. This knowledge gap implies that product designers may lack the necessary guidance to utilise nature inspiration effectively, potentially limiting their project outcomes. This study combines insights from existing literature with findings derived from interviews with seven experienced Finnish product designers. The literature review highlights the importance of inspiration in the design field and explores prior approaches to nature-inspired design. Semi-structured interviews were used to gain practical insights regarding the inspiration processes of the designers. The interview participants were selected primarily based on their long experience with nature-inspired design and their focus on creating physical artefacts. Content analysis was applied to identify common themes, categorise information, and find correlations within the data, while thematic analysis was used to interpret overarching notions in connection with existing literature. The interview findings are examined through three main components: sources, motives, and methods. The individual data within each component has been grouped into themes and broader categories to provide clarity. The results highlight the importance of different types of stimuli, including visual, tactile, and textual stimuli. Preferred inspiration sources include themes such as flowers and wild plants, seasonal changes, and natural imperfections. Motives for utilising nature inspiration are grouped into themes such as pleasant aesthetics, communicating ecological values, and boosting creativity and well-being. The findings also include correlations between motives and preferred inspiration sources. The practical methods used to draw inspiration from nature are divided into broader categories such as immersive and curated engagements. Lastly, the results of a synthesis between prior literature and interview findings are explored, emphasising aspects such as the importance of observing nature’s true complexity, embracing unexpected encounters, and interpreting nature through one’s own experiences. The practical implications are conveyed in the form of design recommendations, serving as a valuable starting point for designers. The first section introduces a nature inspiration framework, providing both an overview and a step-by-step guide. The second part summarises overarching design aspects that are useful to consider throughout the inspiration process. Furthermore, the aim is to encourage additional research in the field of nature-inspired product design, leveraging Finland's established tradition in this area.
Person, Oscar
Thesis advisor
Jeong, Rebecca
nature-inspired design, Finnish product design, inspiration methods, sources of inspiration, interview study, design recommendations
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