Rosa Terráqueo

Besides being powerful color sources, plants can also reveal different properties of the water used, as the colors they yield will shift depending on the alkalinity and hardness of the water they are paired with.

Rosa Terráqueo is a textile exploration of water quality through the lens of botanical dyes. Avocado seeds and a variety of water samples, each with its own level of alkalinity and mineral content, were used to produce a spectrum of pink tones.

The project was inspired by the wide range of pink hues obtained in a series of avocado dye workshops conducted across Europe in the summer of 2017 by Fragmentario.

Upon returning to Brooklyn, experiments began in order to reproduce the water of various locations using household materials, such as lime and salts to transform the soft, neutral water of New York into a variety of harder, basic and acidic waters. A network of collaborators also provided water samples from around the world– Colombia, France, Greece, India, Japan, Mexico, among others– which were used to map the range of avocado pink hues.

Both experiments were integral in understanding how different markers of water quality affected color. The results were used to infuse a range of hues onto the silk fabrics of the collection.

Rosa Terráqueo seeks to visually illustrate the significance of water quality and to question how these variables affect our environments and ourselves. Its name is a nod to the global nature of the waters used for the project and the diverse pink hues obtained with them.

Pollution Hues: Exploring Water Quality Through Natural Dyes

Once prevalent across all cultures, natural dyes were quickly replaced by synthetic dyes after their discovery in the nineteenth century. Besides being powerful color sources, plants can also reveal different properties of the water used.

High in tannins and readily available, avocado seeds are some of the most reliable colorants from nature. They yield a variety of (mostly pink) hues, depending on the quality of the water it is paired with.

During this workshop, participants will experiment with a variety of water samples from around the world to explore how different characteristics, like alkalinity and mineral content, affect the hues obtained from avocado seeds. Each participant will receive fabric samples to experiment with and a zine with information about natural dyes and water quality. They will also be able to save the fabric samples they will dye during the workshop with their respective notes.

Through this alternative method of exploring water quality, participants will engage in different conversations regarding pollution and how seemingly innocuous substances can have harmful effects when present in high concentrations.

These events are part of an ongoing series of events, lectures and workshops for The A/D/O Water Futures Research Program - a yearlong investment challenging designers to research, concept and ideate scalable solutions to the global drinking water crisis.


Before the mid-nineteenth century, plants and other natural sources were used across all cultures to color fiber. After the discovery of synthetic dyes, natural dyes were quickly replaced and an important part of civilization was forgotten. Fragmentario seeks to explore natural dyes in a modern context and inspire conversations about cultural heritage and collective memory.

Fragmentario was founded in Brooklyn in 2016 by Maria Elena Pombo, a fashion design graduate from Parsons School of Design who has worked at Michael Kors and other New York based designers.