Nature knows best: A biologist and a designer take creative direction from the Earth’s operating system

TED Blog


“Borrowing” as a concept is de rigeur in the creative industries and beyond. What’s that too-often quoted aphorism? “Good artists copy; great artists steal”? Plenty of people have trotted that out as justification for acts they want us to believe are far superior to and way different from plagiarism. In this nuanced conversation, biologist and founder of Biomimicry 3.8 Janine Benyus speaks with Tim Brown, chief executive of design and innovation consultancy IDEO, to discuss what’s really interesting about borrowing. The pair bring a fascinating new slant to an old topic. An edited version of their conversation follows:

Tim Brown: As a creative person, I’ve always believed that I can’t be creative unless I’m inspired in some way. Inspiration is a funny thing; it sounds like it’s an internal thing. We think of great creative artists and imagine that inspiration wells up inside of them, but I think that’s…

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