Activating Biodiversity+ Design

Arizona State University the Design School Takes Color of Biodiversity to Hawaii

Zaabi Noor, Beatrice Z, Sarah Price, Heather Goughan
Veronica Taranova Gomelsky
Zaabi Noor
Color of Biodiversity


Color is a tool the earth uses to communicate life, death, and growth. By giving colors a deeper story to connect with, Pantone and Tealeaves opened the door for our class to see the earth as a breathing being rather than a disposable surrounding.

–Clare Witt, ASU Student


Clinical Associate Professor Michelle Fehler and Adelheid Fischer’s unique course takes students around the world with hands-on experiences. Built as a catalyst for inspiration, the course leads Master of Visual Communication Design program (MVCD) graduate students at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts toward nature-positive paths.

This semester, the course used the Color of Biodiversity as a lens for their explorations into design and biodiversity.

Color of Biodiversity

In support of the UN the Color of Biodiversity was created by global color authority, Pantone, in collaboration with TEALEAVES. Inspired by the world’s first pigment, The Color of Biodiversity is a tool to spark curiosity and promote the protection of biodiversity through innovative solutions.


Cacti and other plants in a rocky landscape, a cactus with a bright orange flower is in the middle.


How it Happened

The ASU students were introduced to the color and its concept, taking it on their trip to Hawaii where they explored biomimicry concepts through regenerative design and systems thinking activities. From hiking across lava fields and Kīpuka and snorkeling on coral reefs, they explored native flora to learn how to braid tea leaves. This journey has led students to work with a local research group, the MEGA Lab, consisting of indigenous Hawaiian researchers on a project revolving around the importance of coral reefs for biodiversity and life on the planet. After the students translated their experience and research from the trip into visual communication campaigns that introduce viewers to what coral reefs are. Showcasing the impact our daily actions have on coral reefs and highlighting indigenous stories from which we can learn to be good stewards.

Exploring the connections between nature and our work has led us all to make projects related to coral reefs. Although this color is difficult to find every day, a few species of coral sporting the Color of Biodiversity were spotted in Hawaii for us to draw inspiration from!

–Sarah Price, ASU Student


Two photo collage, on the right a vast Hawaiian landscape with a bright blue sky, the ocean and a mountain with a fluffy white could in the sky if far away, the land with small plants and hills are close. On the right a native Hawaiian plant with a bight red blossom.


The Professors Leading the Course

We connected with Michelle Fehler on our shared values and mutual interest in preserving biodiversity through the lens of design. Being a Clinical Associate Professor, Biomimicry Professional, and Visual Communication Designer at ASU’s Design School, Fehler connects nature’s strategies to find innovative and sustainable solutions through nature. She also teaches various multi-disciplinary design studios and lectures as part of The Design school, as well as the capstone practicum course for the Master’s Biomimicry Program at Arizona State University. Adelheid Fischer is a literary nonfiction writer who focuses on natural history, ecology and the intersections of nature and culture. She is also the former Assistant Director to the Biomimicry Center at ASU.


A rock covered in moss and cobwebs with dew drops that shine and glitter in the sunlight.


The Color, Activated

This class serves as an ideal example of how Color of Biodiversity can be used to combat the climate crisis as a medium for inspiration and an amplifying tool for education. At the end of the semester, the students created a studio exhibition entitled Dive In, that showcased their culminating projects.

Explore the incredible spotlight on the mythology, culture, and importance of coral reefs below:


Dive In: Visuals by Sarah Witt


UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed


Continue your Journey With Us

To stay updated on Color of Biodiversity activations connect with us on LinkedIn.

Explore more about Michelle Fehler’s work and philosophy here.