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Our Top 10 Biomimicry Books of All Time

biomimicry books Nov 03, 2023

Ah, books! 

Today we proudly begin our Biomimicry Book Club and set our reading intentions for 2024. 

For the opening chapter, we’re listing our Top 10 biomimicry books of all time (so far 😉).

Each book covers or overlaps with biomimicry, from business to the built environment. Biomimicry is a mindset, methodology, and above all – the act of collectively designing a thriving future. 

In these books, you will discover brilliant humans (and ideas) that are changing our world. Get ready to be inspired.

Today, we’re inviting you to join us as we build up the Learn Biomimicry Book Club. Sign up now, and receive our popular eBook: A Field Guide to Biomimicry, for free!

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Biomimicry Books, in no particular order.

Let the living lessons begin.

Our Ten Best Biomimicry Books of All Time

Biomimicry: Nature-inspired Innovation


The Origins book: Biomimicry: Nature-Inspired Innovation by Janine Benyus

Surprised? Neither are we. Janine Benyus, the queen bee of biomimicry wrote the origins book that sparked it all. 25 years after its original debut, this profound and accessible book provides the key details on how science is studying nature’s best ideas to solve some of the most pressing challenges we face today.

What to expect: inspiring, broad-ranging, and timeless read. From permaculture and the Land Institute to computing and engineering, this book covers all things biomimicry and everything in between. This book has 8 chapters, each of which asks and answers a key question (How will we …), with key biomimicry examples and case studies. 

An eye-opener for those who may not be aware of biomimicry and the nature-inspired progress being made. There is SO much to this book. Expect a dose of biochemistry too.

“In a biomimetic world, we would manufacture the way animals and plants do, using sun and simple compounds to produce totally biodegradable fibers, ceramics, plastics, and chemicals.

Our farms, modelled on prairies, would be self-fertilising and pest-resistant. To find new drugs or crops, we would consult animals and insects that have used plants for millions of years to keep themselves healthy and nourished. 

Even computing would take its cue from nature, with software that “evolves” solutions, and hardware that uses the lock-and-key paradigm to compute by touch”

- Quote from Chapter One: Echoing Nature

📚 Title: Biomimicry: Nature-inspired Innovation - first published 1997
🧑‍🏫 Author: Janine Benyus
🎯 Focus: Overview of biomimicry and applications
⭐ Rating: 4.01 avg rating on Goodreads - 2,378 reviews | rated 4.5 out of 5 on Amazon
🛒 Purchase: Add the book Biomimicry: Nature-inspired Innovation to cart here

Biomimicry in Architecture


The best biomimicry book for architects - by Michael Pawlyn

Practical, specific, and full of incredible examples - the number one biomimicry book to read if you are a practicing or aspiring architect (or an urban designer). Pawlyn has brought all his biomimicry learnings together into a beautiful book. 

“Biomimicry in Architecture looks to the natural world to seek clues as to how we can achieve radical increases in resource efficiency. Packed with inspiring case studies predicting future trends, the principal chapters look in turn structural efficiency; material manufacture; zero-waste systems; water; energy generation; the thermal environment; and biomimetic products.”

What to expect: The book is full of stunning images both of Pawlyn’s own innovative building designs, from the Eden Project onwards, and other products which we have come to admire such as Interface’s Entropy carpet tile, which was based on the complex visual patterns of the forest floor.

📚  Title: Biomimicry in Architecture - published 2011
🧑‍🏫  Author: Michael Pawlyn
🎯  Focus: Architecture (and to a lesser extent urban design)
⭐  Rating: 4.40 avg rating on Goodreads - 122 reviews | 4.7 out of 5 on Amazon
🛒  Purchase: Add the book Biomimicry in Architecture to cart here

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things


The book that coined cradle to cradle, and the movement towards circularity.
Written by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

The pioneering book that founded the whole cradle-to-cradle movement.

Two authors, one a chemist, and the other an architect, have thought more deeply about what "green" truly means (in terms of the environment). Perhaps more than anybody else. 

The book puts forward a design framework with three nature-inspired principles:

  • Everything is a resource for something else
  • Use clean and renewable energy
  • Celebrate diversity

What to expect: What they say will surprise you. They are not big fans of recycling, for example. Instead, they argue for designing products from the ground up. Products that don’t pollute and products can be reused many times without losing value or quality. Their building designs are especially wonderful too. Widely acknowledged as one of the more important environmental manifestos of our time.

Side note: This book is a recyclable "treeless" book from plastic resins and inorganic fillers. It is waterproof and with a certain treatment, its pages can be wiped clean and reprinted with a new text. It has the capacity to be recycled as a book many times over or it could be reincarnated as another plastic item. There’s a seed within the spine of the book too 🥲

Time magazine called William William McDonough a “Hero for the Planet” who is changing the design of the world… and it’s easy to understand why.

📚  Title: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
🧑‍🏫  Authors: William McDonough, Michael Braungart
🎯  Focus: Circularity and nature-inspired design. Widely applicable to any audience
⭐  Rating: 4.10 stars on Goodreads - with 11,810 ratings | 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon
🛒  Purchase the book Cradle to Cradle on Amazon 

The Shark’s Paintbrush


Written by Jay Harman, this is biomimicry as told by a true biomimic.
Jay Harman is most famous for his Pax Lily invention... an incredible biomimicry example. 

This book is about the remarkable business opportunities found through transferring inventions from the natural world into the manufacturing world. Jay Harman is a biomimicry inventor himself, and the founder of Pax Scientific. It’s one of our favorite biomimicry examples to date. 

What to expect: The majority of the book details brilliant inventions based on things that evolved by nature. Jay Harman injects a whole new vocabulary and way of thinking into the business sphere that speaks to both small start-ups and corporate giants.

📚  Title: The Shark’s Paintbrush - published 2013
🧑‍🏫  Author: Jay Harman
🎯  Focus: Applying biomimicry - as told by a brilliant biomimic
⭐  Rating: 3.82 avg rating on Goodreads - 316 reviews | 4.5 stars on Amazon
🛒  Purchase: Download the first chapter for free here, or buy The Shark’s Paintbrush here

Doughnut Economics


An engaging book that goes well beyond 'economics.
Kate Raworth shares seven ways we can create a thriving 21st Century Economy 

This is possibly one of the MOST accessible books on economics and underpins a lot of the paradigm-level change that we are seeing in the world of biomimicry & business. 

What to expect: If you’re looking for a practical and thought-provoking read - Kate sets out a roadmap for bringing humanity into a sweet spot that meets the needs of all within the means of the planet. 

Easy to understand concepts and grounded in the reality of this planet, Doughnut Economics gives us hope and tools for the future. In this inspiring yet pragmatic treatise, Kate shares powerful practices and models for reshaping the way that we do business – with the aim of bringing us back within the ecological and social safe zones of planet Earth. 

“Here is the conundrum: 

No country has ever ended human deprivation without a growing economy. 

And no country has ever ended ecological degradation with one”

- Kate Raworth

If you have never had an interest in economics, but have a reluctant suspicion that it might be useful for you to understand it, then this is the book for you. 

📚  Title: Doughnut Economics - first published 2017
🧑‍🏫  Author: Kate Raworth
🎯  Focus: Seven ways to create a thriving 21st Century Economy 
⭐  Goodreads Rating: 4.19 avg rating on Goodreads - 12,067 ratings | 4.6 stars on Amazon
🛒  Purchase: Add the book Doughnut Economics to the cart here

Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature


Authored by Kristen Nordstrom, Mimic Makers is an incredibly well-illustrated book
that features real-world scientists and nature-inspired inventors 

Sharing ten examples through real-life scientists, engineers, and designers who ‘imitate plants and animals’ to create amazing nature-inspired technologies. From the design of a train inspired by a kingfisher's beak to a scientist who models her solar cell on the mighty leaf - this book is for those who wish to discover how we copy nature's good ideas to solve real-world problems.

“Amazing! Love that the book features the scientists and inventors and that there is a diverse set of them.” — Janine Benyus, co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute

📚  Title: Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature
🧑‍🏫  Author: Kristen Nordstrom
🎯  Focus: Biomimicry and kids, young readers and parents
⭐  Rating: 4.44 avg rating on Goodreads, with 134 ratings | 4.9 out of 5 on Amazon
🛒  Purchase: Add the Mimic Makers book to your cart here

Biomimicry Resource Handbook: A Seed Bank of Best Practices


The Biomimicry Resource Handbook, written by the brilliant Dr. Dayna Baumeister (of Biomimicry 3.8)

Okay, so how do you actually do biomimicry?

Dr. Dayna Baumeister, one of the pioneering founders of the practice of biomimicry, aimed to answer this question by writing The Biomimicry Resource Handbook. 

A seed bank of best practices and biomimicry examples, this book focuses on the design frameworks of biomimicry, the biomimicry methodology, and tools for applying biomimicry. 

Practical, applied, and easily understandable, this is a great handbook for those looking to apply biomimicry. 

📚  Title: Biomimicry Resource Handbook: A Seed Bank of Best Practices
🧑‍🏫  Author: Dr. Dayna Baumeister
🎯  Focus: Biomimicry thinking, methodology, and applying biomimicry
⭐  Rating: 4.33 ave rating on Goodreads with 12 ratings | 4.7 out of 5 on Amazon
🛒  Purchase: Buy the digital version for $45 here, or buy the hardcopy on Amazon for $95 here

Braiding Sweetgrass


By Robin Wall Kimmerer

The three seeds of biomimicry encourage us all to turn to nature as a model, mentor, and measure - reminding us of a different way of being. 

In the most beautiful way, Braiding Sweetgrass echoes this sentiment through indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teachings of plants. 

As described by the author, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass is ‘an intertwining of science, spirit and story - old stories and new ones that can be medicine for our broken relationship with the earth’. In reading this book, you can’t help but feel a deep sense of wonder, gratitude, and of interconnectedness with our earthly home.  

Do yourself a favor and dig your feet into the soil, and your teeth into this book. If you’re wondering what the Ethos and Re/Connect of biomimicry are all about – this is it. 

📚  Title: Braiding Sweetgrass
🧑‍🏫  Author: Robin Wall Kimmerer
🎯  Focus: Poetic and beautifully written mix of indigenous wisdom, science and botany
⭐  Rating: 4.6 stars on Goodreads with 100,498 ratings | 4,7 stars on Amazon - 18,315 reviews
🛒  Purchase Braiding Sweetgrass, a #1 best seller in ecology here

Beloved Economies


Beloved Economies: Transforming How We Work rethinks 'business as usual'.
Written by Jess Rimington and Joanna Cea. 

Have you ever wondered what it might look like if our businesses could create conditions conducive to life? ​​

Based on extensive research with organizations and companies across the U.S. that are boldly breaking out of “business as usual”, Beloved Economies radically shifts our perceptions about what’s possible when we change how we work. 

Authors Jess Rimington and Joanna Cea worked collaboratively with more than sixty business people to discover what they are doing differently. What these people have in common is that they are generating forms of success that audaciously prioritize well-being, meaning, connection, and resilience—alongside conventional metrics like quality and financial success. All of this powerful, practical wisdom is distilled into 7 Practices that are shared with you, the reader. 

📚  Title: Beloved Economies
🧑‍🏫  Authors: Jess Rimington and Joanna Cea
🎯  Focus: Work and how we choose to work
⭐  Rating: 4.29 - 38 ratings on Goodreads - 8 reviews | 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon
🛒  Purchase the book Beloved Economies here

The Learn Biomimicry Handbooks


Every hiker needs a base camp, every tree needs a sound foundation to flourish. Made up of three handbooks, each book builds in complexity – starting with the fundamentals of biomimicry, diving deeper into the principles of life and finally expanding into systems and biomimicry thinking. Set yourself up for success with a solid foundation of biomimicry knowledge. 
Purchase these handbooks in the Biomimicry Short Course Set

Well, well, well… How's that for a little self-promotion! ;) 

We’re quite proud of these publications, and fortunately, our learners love them, too. 

Giving you the option to take your learning to the next level, our biomimicry handbooks give added depth and diversity to the information covered in the short videos. Written & designed by the course instructors, Claire Janisch and Jess Berliner, the handbooks make it easy for you to start where you are and then to keep learning biomimicry.

The Biomimicry Handbooks are not revolutionary, they are evolutionary - selecting the best of biomimicry. And yes, there are some key biomimicry examples and insights you won’t find elsewhere (I’m looking at you, the Biomimicry Masterclass).

What to expect: This is a deep dive into the complete foundation of biomimicry and a set of books that you can keep referring back to. 

📚  Title: The Learn Biomimicry Handbooks (various) - published in 2020
🧑‍🏫  Authors: Claire Janisch & Jessica Berliner
🎯  Focus: Applying biomimicry - biomimicry examples, case studies, biomimicry frameworks
⭐  Rating: Introduction to Biomimicry - 4.3/5 - 228 Reviews, Biomimicry, Life's Principles - 4.4/5 - 158 Reviews, Biomimicry Masterclass 4.4/5 - 112 Reviews
🛒  Purchase: You can get the handbooks when you buy the Biomimicry Short Course Set here

Bonus eBook: A Field Guide to Biomimicry (free)


 10 years to build, 10 minutes to read, This eBook is the distilled essence of biomimicry.
The field guide to Biomimicry is a 27-page ebook built to make biomimicry understandable - quickly & easily. This concise primer, packed with clear explanations of popular concepts, will elevate your understanding of biomimicry in just a single read-through. Download your free ebook here.

📚  Title:  A Field Guide to Biomimicry - published in 2022
🧑‍🏫  Authors: Jessica Berliner
🎯  Focus: A useful introduction to practicing biomimicry in the field (or when you don't have reception : )
⭐  Rating: 4.6/5 stars 
🛒  Purchase: You can get the handbooks when you buy the Biomimicry Short Course Set here

Honorable Mentions

  • Nature's Wild Ideas: How the Natural World is Inspiring Scientific Innovation
    By Kristy Hamilton
  • Biomimicry and Business: How Companies Are Using Nature's Strategies to Succeed
    By Margo Farnsworth
  • TeemingHow Superorganisms Work Together to Build Infinite Wealth on a Finite Planet (and your company can too)
    by Tamsin Woolley-Barker
  • Ecologies Design - Transforming Architecture, Landscape and Urbanism
    by Maibritt Pedersen Zari, Mark Southcombe, and Peter Connolly
  • Natural Intelligence Building the future of innovation on millions of years of Natural Intelligence
    by Leen Gorissen


In summary, there are a number of great books on the subject of biomimicry. In fact, there are now well over 100+ books to choose from.

We most likely missed one, and we'd love to know which book. 
Comment your favorite biomimicry book or nature-inspired reading below.

Wild regards
The Learn Biomimicry Team


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