The manipulation of light lies at the very core of the way how most organisms interact. While the physical and chemical underpinnings of “colour” are seemingly well established, the detailed investigation of how animals and plants manipulate the flow of light continues to surprise us. This presentation will start out with an overview how 500 million years of evolution has produced optical effects that are unparalleled in technological development. Particularly, many organisms use photonic effects (colour produced by the interference of light) that arise from seemingly disordered 100-nm morphologies. The challenges in understanding the principles of “disordered photonics” will be described, followed by progress that is currently being made. The second part will then focus on approaches to fabricating materials that implement the lessons learned from nature.