Neri Oxman suggests the beginner's mind is filled with innocence. "As child you think you are shrinking when you see an airplane take off." Oxman and her Mediated Matters group at the MIT Media Lab have moved beyond "bio mimicry" to actually designing with nature in pursuit of bio-inspired fabrication. She told me about their new silk pavilion, actually created by 6500 silk worms. She envisions scaling this idea with a swarm of 3-D printers to expand beyond any one printer's gantry as part of her search for "variations in kind" moving well beyond "better, faster, cheaper, bigger."

In our interview at the C2 Conference in Montreal, Oxman told me about her "fork in the road". She's a trained architect and designer. The choice she faced was whether to focus on design or go into research. She chose research because it gave her the opportunity to design her own technology. It allowed her to influence both products and processes – both influenced by nature.

She's a big proponent of variations in kind – true innovations. She's convinced these come from "being vulnerable", not so much from solving a problem as from innocense and different world view. It's that different world view that allows the innovator to come up with new to the world solutions when problems do come.

The holy grail of innovation is the Eureka moment – the sudden breakthrough. Those moments don't happen in vacuums. They have preludes and second acts. So prepare in advance, focus on solving problems, and follow through. Follow this link to read the overview article on

Enhanced by Zemanta