Biomimicry is a method of product design that's steadily gaining popular currency; proof comes in the form of the Loef which capitalizes on the lessons left to use by sunflowers.
When the sun rears its shining head beyond the horizon, sunflowers autonomously turn their bulb in order to capture as much sunlight as possible. Toer Studios of Eindhoven, Netherlands spent some time observing the genius behind reactive plants like sunflowers; plants that change their orientation and function depending on their surroundings. Using that insight, the company developed the Loef, a parasol that opens and changes its structure according to the climate. Without sunlight, the Loef umbrella stands still -- yet, upon the appearance of a few beams, the parasol will collect energy and unravel itself, providing the user with precious shade. The design principle at the center of the Loef is one that is gaining speed: products should react to the conditions surrounding them, including light, temperature and the nearby users.