gift my paintings to . I ’ m not sure if we were to look at the work we as designers develop , if we could honestly say it has all the right parts in the right balance and satisfies the users . Too often I think we tend to pursue aesthetic or functional purposes without finding ways to balance the two . Or to place in the context of rules 1 and 2 to ensure our built environment is of the place and provides a holistic ROI .
We need to be pretty thoughtful about what we add or remove from the objects or systems ( especially systems ) Nature has built . To be honest , my example of the mouse trap belies the terrible complexities of natural systems . Objects and systems built by Nature have form and functional relationships at the macro to molecular levels . It ’ s not hyperbolic speech to suggest there is no way for us to know or understand all of the relationships built into a naturally built object or system . I ’ m not advocating analysis paralysis .
The point is simply look closely at what Nature has already built , it ’ s a model for what we should build . We don ’ t need superfluous , nonfunctional objects or systems in our built environment . And we should be really careful about pulling at the thread and unknitting Nature . We don ’ t understand what we don ’ t know , and there is a lot we just don ’ t know . Does that mean we shouldn ’ t interact with Nature ? Not at all . But it also means the next time someone says , we don ’ t have to worry about “ X ,” it will never harm Nature , our collective radars should sound .
Isle Royale National Park in Michigan doesn ’ t require anything to make it more beautiful . However , some designers might propose adding a “ little color ” ( day lilies , ornamental grass ) to improve the view . While these improvements might enhance the human perception of the scene ’ s aesthetic value , they would do little to improve the scene ’ s habitat value .
Although humans have been altering their environs with ever-increasing rapidity for centuries , we have rarely created objects or places that have the long‐lasting power of those created by Nature . ( Heck , we can ’ t even socially organize ourselves effectively for more than a few centuries before new civilization paradigms and regimes circumvent previous organizational structures .) While we can certainly point to a few remnant objects or places , more has been lost than preserved . Why is that ? We certainly have the smarts for creating amazing structures , objects , and places .
For my own convenience , I grossly anthropomorphize Nature throughout this essay as if it were sentient and sovereign . The fact is , Nature is neither . Nature is mindless .
10 | LEARNING FROM NATURE