LOCATION: colusa county, CALIFORNIA.

WEATHER: cold, wet, raining, flooding.



Solutions mustn’t be complex or hyper performing. Nature can be complex and high performing but it can also be essential and efficient. Your design mustn’t be overly sophisticated or extremely innovative. Nature can be sophisticated and innovative but it can also be unnecessarily complex, able to adapt, to evolve and to vary. The natural world speaks to me. It says simplify. Slow down. Why are you in such a hurry? You cannot beat time, or life, or death. You can be. And you can be a mirror of my simple, clean efficiencies. Take what you need, what serves you best, but give back when you are finished.

“While living prototypes are extremely complex, we need, typically, minimum complexity, maximum simplicity and reliability, ease of operation and predictability. Such features are not easy to guarantee in the case of copying the biological prototype.”
Zygote Quarterly, Biomimetics: Ten Assumptions I Question


1. Lizards are so active when it’s hot. When it’s cold and wet, where have they gone? I don’t see them or hear them. They utilize the sun’s energy for movement in the summer. I think they have so much excess energy that they must need a way to get rid of some of it with their activity. When there’s an abundance in energy sources, they use them. Lizards respond to the energy in their environment. They can even blend in using camouflage.

2. There is a small red barked oak tree that I’ve been mesmerized b for 5 years. Turns out, it’s not an oak at all, it’s actually a Manzanita bush. It offers a fruit, is drought-resistant, and is covered in a unique thick, smooth red bark. The berries can be harvested and stored. Once dried, they can be ground into a flour. They can be eaten ripe for a sweet flavor or green for a sour flavor. The berries can be distilled into a sweetener. The berries and branch tips can be soaked in water to make a cider and Native Americans even used the tree’s leaves for brushing their teeth. They tolerate light or heavy soils. The tree is hardy enough to resist drought and elements as fierce as high-speed cars on the freeway. Manzanita wood is also used for pet birds as it creates ultra long lasting nests. The wood holds up well over extended periods of water submersion. Dried Manzanita wood makes for excellent tinder. From Wikipedia “Some manzanita species are among the rarest plants in the world. The endemic Arctostaphylos hookeri ravenii (Presidio manzanita) is the most endangered and restricted plant in the mainland United States. In 1987 only one specimen remained, at a secret location in the Presidio of San Francisco National Historic Landmark District in San Francisco, California. This plant has since been successfully cloned.[9] Arctostaphylos franciscana (Franciscan Manzanita), a species native to San Francisco, had not been seen growing wild since 1947 until it was spotted growing in the Presidio of San Francisco in October 2009.[2] Caltrans transplanted this specimen on 23 January 2010 to make way for the Doyle Drive Replacement Project.[10] Transplanting costs were funded in part by Federal Highways Administration, Caltrans, The Presidio of San Francisco, and private donors.” Turns out this captivating tree has a rather colorful history and so many interesting uses!

3. Though this material has been explored in biomimicry to the point of being cliche, burrs cover the landscape and my clothes. They are so very persistent and successful. They may have inspired velcro, but did nature design them to be our clothing fasteners? A bur is a seed, fruit or fruiting head that has dry hooks which repel predators and disperse seeds by hitching a ride on animals and people. A large bur known as a teasel, can be used as a brush or fabric fulling tool once dried. From Wikipedia: The genus name is derived from the word for thirst of water and refers to the cup-like formation made where sessile leaves merge at the stem. Rain water can collect in this receptacle; this may perform the function of preventing sap-sucking insects such as aphids from climbing the stem. A 2011 experiment has shown that adding dead insects to these cups increases the seedset of teasels (but not their height), implying partial carnivory.


  1. The Texas horned lizard uses the organization of its skin and horn features along with its position to capture and distribute water to its mouth for drinking. It uses the resources in its environment like the sun and insect for energy. It also uses the appearance of its exterior features to blend in with his environment. My product could use its shell to collect rainwater as well, and the shape of the pod could be designed to distribute water to a “mouth” or opening. The material of the pod could be camouflaging so that it can be hidden or go unnoticed, storing seeds in a stealth mode.
  2. The manzanita tree is covered in a smooth bark that protects it from damage, possibly even brush fire, and helps it to resist drought. It produces a versatile fruit that can be used for food. Its roots can tolerate light or heavy soil. My design can utilize a sturdy skin for protection, and this skin could shed itself as the Manzanita does for access to the seeds. The skin could regrow itself to self-repair after seed use. This sturdy outer shell could keep water in, keep other elements out, and provide structural protection from exterior damage. A dried pod could be used for alternative energy source by being burned for fire which would provide light and heat. Pods could be farmed large scale for food, and their bark-like shell could be used for a building material, harvested and processed like bamboo.
  3. The bur uses its structure to transport itself. It also can collect water and insects. When it collected insects, it was able to produce more seeds. My design could use its structure to transport itself. It could us a burr-inspired apparatus or arm to collect water or other resources it could use for fuel.