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Biohm is a multi-award-winning research and development led, bio-manufacturing company. We allow nature to lead innovation, to revolutionise construction and create a healthier, more sustainable, built-environment.

BIOHM's Oksana Bondar is London's 'Design Insider'

In early October 2020, our Director of Design, Oksana Bondar, interviewed with the Evening Standard Magazine, discussing how her design practice has evolved during the lockdown. Take a trip down the microscope and read the full un-edited interview below, to find out how she takes inspiration from 'Mother Nature'.

Image: Oksana Bondar, taking inspiration from nature (Mark Cocksedge)

What item was your companion was during lockdown earlier in the year?

'My loyal companion during lockdown has been a compound microscope, a

new addition to the toolbox in my home studio. I'm passionate about

biomimetics, a design inspired by the way functional challenges have

been solved in biology, and have been eager to explore what the

natural world can teach designers - lockdown has facilitated long

evenings with my new best friend - the looking glass into the wonders

of Mother Nature.'

Image: Japanese acer leaf blade (Oksana Bondar)

What changes would you like to see in a post-Covid era?

'I believe Covid has taught us all many lessons and facilitated a

global social, economic and environmental re-evaluation. We have come

face to face with the number of limits, from food shortages in our

supermarkets to materials not being available to our industries, and

sensed the brutality of borders between and within countries; we have

felt betrayed and abandoned by our governments, but realised the power

of place-based and global community; we have challenged preconceptions

about race and gender, whilst pulling through loss and mourning. Covid

has taken us on a rocky journey and I believe what is felt in every

home, office, factory and parliament is that there needs to be a

change and it needs to be a systemic one. I believe we collectively

have a chance to intrinsically rethink and re-design our man-made

world and I envisage the post-Covid era to manifest a circular and

inclusive economy, where people have agency and autonomy, where our

industrial activities are regenerative and are symbiotic with a

natural world that flourishes.'

Image: 'Microscopy' (Oksana Bondar)

'Being a true believer in nature, I would like to see us tapping into

the recent experience of being slowed down and isolated to unlearn the

way we lead our personal lives and the way we operate as an industry

and society. Without sounding like a tree-hugger and not that

tree-hugging is bad in any way, I believe we can fuel the paradigm

shift by looking to the natural world for solutions to our social,

economic, and environmental problems. Nature has faced and resolved

all challenges through billions of years of evolution and holds

answers to design, business, industrial, societal, and systemic

problems. When we look closer, we will find that the concept of waste

is non-existent, all nutrients are in constant circulation within

their respective, place-based cycles, all forms are highly functional

and all organisms work with one another in symbiotic partnerships. I

dream about being a part of a society that follows the rules and laws

that govern the natural world that we are an integral part of to learn

and mimic its sophistication, elegance and equilibrium. I especially

would like to see these changes in the industry to which I have

dedicated my life - design.'

Image: Mallow stem cross section (Oksana Bondar)

'Designers have a unique opportunity to

play a critical role in determining what the post-Covid world will be.

I would love to see the design industry re-conceptualise what ‘good

design’ is by designing for diversity, optimising rather than

maximising by tapping into the power of limits, developing

place-based, vernacular solutions, creating intelligent materials and

products by running on information, shaping for evolution, fitting

form to function, applying systemic thinking and taking all

stakeholders into consideration. Learning from nature might feel

backwards to many, however I believe that as an industrialised society

we are yet to fully comprehend the true genius of nature and that if

it’s combined with our inquisitiveness, curiosity and creativity along

with the advanced technology, we will see that we are on the brink of

a new age of nature-inspired invention and an Anthropocene that is

characterised by regeneration rather than destruction. Naturally it

might feel daunting to step into the unknown but perhaps to ease us

into the journey of creating the new, we should all take a look into

the ocular lens of a microscope and be reminded of the amazing!'

Image: Microscopic image of a Horse Chestnut leaf blade (Oksana Bondar)