Architects' view of nature tends to rest on the assumption that it is inherently efficient in its use of materials and energy, and essentially ingenious and elegant in its solutions. This perception in science is one that has been propounded through Darwinism: the notion that refinement of ‘design’ is achieved through repetitive selection, variation and mutation. The renowned biologist J Scott Turner argues here that there is little evidence that living design actually comes about in this way. Instead, looking to Darwin's French contemporary Claude Bernard and his theory of homeostasis, he proposes that living systems converge on effective design much faster and more predictably than a simple regime of natural selection alone would suggest. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.