For numerous engineering applications, there is a high demand for protective lightweight structures with outstanding energy absorption performance and the ability to prevent catastrophic structural failures. In nature, most species have evolved with hierarchical biological structures that possess novel mechanical properties, including ultrahigh specific energy absorption, progressive laminated failure modes, and ability for crack arrestment, in order to defend themselves from hostile environments. In this study, a novel protective metamaterial having spherical hollow structures (SHSs) was developed with different hierarchical microstructures. An artificial failure mode engineering strategy was proposed by tailoring the microstructures of SHS unit cells. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method, a composite hierarchical SHS lattice structure was developed using a biomimetic laminated failure mode and through a hardening mechanism, mimicking crystal grain boundaries. The quasi-static compressive results indicated a significant improvement in the specific energy absorption, an enhanced plateau stress magnitude, and an obvious delay in the densification stage for the composite hierarchical SHS lattice owing to the constraining effect of its mesoscale grain boundaries and an increased number of intensively engineered laminated failure levels. This novel type of metamaterial was shown to be immensely beneficial in designing lightweight protective aerospace components such as turbine blade lattice infills.