My name is Michelle, I am a designer and biomimic. My goal is to spread the exciting and amazing genius that surrounds us everyday. All the organisms on this planet have adapted to their environment in order to thrive. As Homo sapiens, there is a lot we can learn from these elders. Naturefactor provides consulting for companies, speaking engagements at conferences and events, and biomimetic design work.
As visual communication designers, we have to consider many factors in our daily work. We strive to satisfy the customer, ensure the correct message, keep up with the newest trends in technology and software, keep up with intangible channels like social networking and brand perception, and stay creative, happy, and healthy. Over the last few years, the increased focus on sustainability has added yet another responsibility to our plate: Our solutions should have little or no negative impact on our planet.
Many steps have been taken already to reduce the carbon footprint of our industry. Yet, there is still so much more we can and should do. One approach is to incorporate biomimetic principles into our design process so that we can be even more efficient and successful with our time, energy, and resources.
A little bit about myself
My passion for nature was born during my childhood. I grew up in Switzerland in a little town called Boswil (1,500 inhabitants). My dad is from Lenggries, Germany and my mom from Phoenix Arizona. Avid gardeners, both my parents introduced me and my sister to the world of fresh vegetables and fruits from our own backyard. I remember coming home from school and wanting a snack…”go grab a carrot from the garden” was most often the response. I also enjoyed playing and spending time with rabbits, sheep, dogs, cats, birds, etc. It was heaven!
We moved to Zürich when I was a teenager, and there I worked as a business travel agent for Hotelplan/First Business Travel. My dad was a pilot, so traveling was in my blood as well. I had the privilege to see much of the world during my younger years. While my friends went camping near a lake in Switzerland, my sister and I would travel from Bangkok to Hongkong to Rio and Capetown. The different cultures, languages, traditions, and economic situations left big impressions on me; especially the poorer countries and their struggles.
When I was 25, I decided to move to the United States for 6 months and try to build a life there – It’s been way more than 6 months now and I am loving the adventures my life has taken me on so far. I love how life operates unexpectedly when you let it. I have worked as a marketing associate, and then, after getting my degree in visual communication as a graphic designer. Being exposed to all the waste that is associated with graphic design, I could not continue doing my job within the given parameters. I did not want to send out yet another postcard to 50,000 people asking them to do whatever it was we thought they needed to do. It seemed like such a waste. I tried to offset my feelings by printing on recycled or 100% FSC paper and worked with printers who printed with vegetable based inks, but that seemed trivial after a while.
Therefore, in 2009 I decided to go back to school and get my Masters. I focused my applied project on naturefactor, a resource for graphic designers that allows them to become biomimetic designers. This site continues to explore the boundary between design and Biomimicry and spreads knowledge about the new approach of biomimicry to anyone who is interested.
I am currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at The Design school at Arizona State University and teach classes that range from visual communication foundation, motion graphics, professional development, biomimicry to studio courses for undergrad as well as graduate students. Currently I am finishing up my second Master’s degree through ASU’s newest Biomimicry program, as well as the Biomimicry Professional program through B3.8.
I hope you are as inspired as I am to explore and learn about the diverse and magnificent living organisms that live around us.