Biologically inspired design is attracting increasing interest since it offers access to a huge biological repository of well proven design principles that can be used for developing new and innovative products. Biological phenomena can inspire product innovation in as diverse areas as mechanical engineering, medical engineering, nanotechnology, photonics, environmental protection and agriculture. However, a major obstacle for the wider use of biologically inspired design is the knowledge barrier that exist between the application engineers that have insight into how to design suitable products and the biologists with detailed knowledge and experience in understanding how biological organisms function in their environment. The biologically inspired design process can therefore be approached using different design paradigms depending on the dominant opportunities, challenges and knowledge characteristics. Design paradigms are typically characterized as either problem-driven, solution-driven, sustainability driven, bioreplication or a combination of two or more of them. The design paradigms represent different ways of overcoming the knowledge barrier and the present paper presents a review of their characterization and application.