The Mendel Project // Orchid Series


  • Gregor Mendel;  July 1822 – January 1884
  • We often credit the discovery of inheritance to Charles Darwin, however, a less well-known but important character deserved much more credit than he received.

    At the beginning of the 19th century in the Austrian empire, a provincial monk named Gregor Mendel noticed some interesting traits of inheritance while potting pea plants. As a result, he then spent a decade experimenting with over thirty thousand pea plants. Although he never used the word ‘gene’ in his paper (the word only appeared in a medical dictionary starting 1913), he clearly knew what he was doing.

    As Darwin was sailing around the word collecting flora and fauna, Mendel remained in the monastery’s kitchen garden reproducing pea plants. While  Darwin took the world by surprise with On The Origin Of Species, Mendel’s report remained widely ignored and spent the rest of his life growing what might have possibly be the most advanced plant in the world for his time.

    Darwin understood that every living thing are connected, whereas Mendel held the key to comprehend how and why. Though they were separated by a thousand kilometres, unfortunately, the two never met.

    It was not until much later on that the world was ready to understand and appreciate Mendel’s work and give his findings the recognition they deserved.

    This project is a modest tribute to Mendel.

  • Wall Charts of Cuscuta glomerata (left); Aspidium filix (top); Pinus Silvestris (bottom); Mimosa pudica (right) - 1874-1893.
  • By the late 19th century, naturalists, artists and scientists were enjoying a golden age of discoveries. The beauty of the wall-charts lies in the excellence of drawings execution, colours, and the amazing level of details, resulting in fascinating, educational pieces of art.
  • Preliminary sketches.
  • Orchid stem section sampling.
  • Left - High resolution microscopic photography of an orchid's  stem section
    Right - Digital enhancing and vectorisation
  • Ideation - Coating layers simulation.
  • This collaboration with Ajing was an opportunity to showcase more than two decades of metal finishing know-how. 

    Liquid metal is an exceptional material that allows visual and texture volumes with high complexity. For this project, we aimed at solidifying a hand-finished microscopic section of an orchid stem with metal. Sand blasting reveals the physical dimension of the intricate cells. The medium is then coated with several layers of bronze and undergo multiple surface treatments from undercoating, metal coating, aging to top coating. The polishing brings light to an elaborate metallic coating.

    This organic texture has been made possible by a judicious combination of both high precision of computer numerical control (CNC) machining and the unique expertise of skilled artisans. 
  • From left to right:
    1. Prototyping - PVC stencil stitching
    2. Sand blasting - Pressure and distance optimisation
    3. Coating -  Metallic textures experimentation
  • The Mendel Project debuts with the Orchid Series, produced at a limited edition of ten artefacts.
  • Project Manager: Eric Chan
    Designer: François Hurtaud
    Art direction:  Zhang Yap
    Photography: François Hurtaud, Pak Chung
    Videography: François Hurtaud
    Manufacturing: Ajing Ltd.
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