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Business from the Wild

(p.50) 6 Biomimicry
Margo Farnsworth
University of Chicago Press

This chapter follows Ray Anderson and his carpet company, Interface, Inc., on their journey toward sustainability in business. Too long set apart from nature, most companies have sought maximization over optimization and sacrificed a bevy of natural resources along the way through extractive practices and waste. Ray, his employees, and contractors like David Oakey learned that if they could rediscover the wild places around their sites and mimic nature through a process called biomimicry they could operate in sync with the natural cycles and rules of the planet. Biomimicry is a relatively new tool used in business to recreate connections and perhaps even reconcile human technologies and products with the wild. Biologists, designers, engineers, and other business professionals are reconnecting to the wild with biomimicry by emulating organisms and even ecosystems, using nature’s forms, processes, and systems as muse, teacher, and template. Doing this, Interface cut waste, built profit, and acted in line with nature’s existing limits and boundaries. By looking at how nature covers its floors and mimicking those forms and structures, Interface achieved optimization, employee satisfaction, and became the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpet tiles.

Keywords:   biomimicry, mimic, Ray Anderson, David Oakey, Interface Carpets, sustainability, optimization, carpet tiles

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