This month’s theme explores nature, calling on emerging talent to discover and dissect the intricacies of design through nature and how our world around us can act as a stimulus for creating.

Carry on reading to discover what our designers think about patterns in nature and how we can recognise the fragility of our natural habitat. 


Alex Binyon is a  recent graduate with a Degree in Product Design from the University of Dundee. As a technology-focused professional who understands the creative process, he loves to use his understanding of electronics to bring projects to life. Alex has a strong connection to the outdoors and enjoys using his knowledge in the area to contribute to design projects.
His passion is fusing modern technology with creative design.

How did you become interested in design?

I have always loved problem solving and design was a great way to share and help visualise complex solutions. Design is a framework which allows us to shape the way people interact with everything within our daily lives. Initially I was more focused on the systematic engineering approach, however an understanding of the user experience has led me into the design approach. Design allows us to constantly question why things are done the way they are and playfully experiment with aspects from lots of different disciplines.

How important do you think looking after our natural habitat is?

It’s massively important that we look after our natural environment, it’s essential for human life and affects us all. Recently, in the Covid era, we have been able to reap the benefits of how wonderful our local environment is, more people than ever have appreciated being outdoors and enjoying being in nature. This appreciation has fuelled the idea that we need to do what we can to look after these gems to ensure they are around for future generations.


 What inspires you most on a day to day basis?

Amazing designers all over the world who are making tremendous contributions to the huge range of industries that they are designing for. A great way to keep up to date are the companies or social media accounts that showcase new inventions or interesting concepts that question the norm or introduce new ideas.
Knowing that by being a product designer your role is to create things that improve people’s lives and knowing that I am contributing to that, inspires me for the future, and my dog, Mindy!

What’s your go to stimulus when you start to create work?

Nothing gets the design cap on better than a walk in the countryside.
I love to take my dog out for a walk to mull over my initial design ideas with a recorder app open, I find it really helps to say the ideas out loud and to have a copy available later. I feel this method best allows me to keep the ideas realistic and then opens the opportunity for design refinement. Some of those ideas are discounted or not feasible whereas others are further refined into more solid concepts to be taken further.

What intrigues you about the patterns and designs you can find in nature?

Natural shapes and curves are super interesting and are my favourite thing to draw because of the different styles of line you can use. However, I have been really interested in contrasting natural geometric shapes such as honeycomb structures, and sharp angular leaves and stems. The presuppositions are that natural shapes are all gradual curves that are soft and gentle so recognising such structures can occur naturally feels inspiring.
Something I like to think about is the combination of the textures, shapes and colours used within nature. Nature has learned to evolve and adapt over time which offers inspiration to designers like myself.

Do you think people’s attitude to nature has shifted over the past 18 months?

Most definitely, some of the research for my project – Compass Companion looked at the trends of people taking to the outdoors during lockdown. This resulted in visitor numbers skyrocketing at local beauty spots for the most “Instagrammable” hiking trails and increased use of private gardens and public parks. This has also introduced more people to experience outdoor hobbies and enjoy more simple pleasures such as alfresco dining with friends and enjoying their gardens.
Over that last 18 months, increased home working and the use of social media has allowed more community Involvement to support different projects to protect the environment such as beach clean ups and wild-flower planting for bees and butterflies. We want to enjoy nature but also must learn to protect it as well.