Featured Project

Aquarium of the Pacific: Open Ocean

Most of the Earth is covered in oceans, yet almost 95 percent of the sea floor remains unexplored. To generate excitement for deep ocean exploration, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach partnered with the Graphic Design and Interaction Design departments along with Designmatters to create a public awareness campaign for the Aquarium. The class devised a multi-layered strategy they named “Open Ocean,” which included powerful call-to-actions for deep ocean exploration. 

The creative challenge was to explore the links between humans, the ocean and the planet, and move the conversations outside the Aquarium and beyond their traditional audience. Through a series of unique art installations, collaborative games and a storytelling series, students used their design skills to create experiences that encouraged policymakers and the wider public to develop personal and meaningful connections to the ocean. 

This transdisciplinary studio was led by Nik Hafermaas and Maggie Hendrie, respective chairs of Graphic Design and Interaction Design, as well as marine scientist and Designmatters scholar-in-residence Muireann McMahon.

Open Ocean

In the Making


Nik Hafermaas

Nik Hafermaas is a designer and artist whose impressive client list includes Audi, Deutsche Telecom AG, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Zurich Financial Services.

We were asked to create ideas for a public awareness campaign—our students responded with Open Ocean, the blueprint for a movement generating excitement and engagement across society for deep ocean exploration. Open Ocean is the creative answer to a challenge of wicked scale and complexity.

Nik HafermaasChair, Graphic Design Department