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Gregor Mendel; July 1822 – January 1884

Gregor Mendel; July 1822 – January 1884

We often credit the discovery of genetics and inheritance to Charles Darwin, however a less well-known individual in history deserves just as much attention. 

At the beginning of the 19th century in the Austrian empire, a provincial monk called Gregor Mendel noticed some interesting traits of inheritance while potting pea plants. The retiring monk then spent an entire decade experimenting on almost 30,000 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.

While Darwin was sailing around the word collecting flora and fauna, Mendel stayed 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 was connected, Mendel held the key to comprehend how and why. About one thousand kilometres apart, unfortunately the two never met.

It is only much later when the world was ready for it that Mendel’s work gained some recognition.

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.

Mendel Project - Liquid Metal Furniture - Francois Hurtaud Design - Sketch - .JPG

Preliminary sketches.

Orchid stem section sampling.

High resolution microscopic photography of an orchid' stem section

High resolution microscopic photography of an orchid' stem section

Digital enhancing and vectorisation

Digital enhancing and vectorisation

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Ideation - Coating layers simulation.

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

From left to right:

1. Prototyping - PVC stencil stitching

2. Sand blasting - Pressure and distance optimisation

3. Coating - Metallic textures experimentation

Mendel Project - Liquid Metal Furniture - Francois Hurtaud Design - Orchid - Polishing.JPG
Mendel Project - Liquid Metal Furniture - Francois Hurtaud Design - Orchid Art Piece.jpg

The Mendel Project debuts with the Orchid Series, produced at a limited edition of ten artefacts.

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Mendel Project - Liquid Metal Furniture - Francois Hurtaud Design - Orchid Cabienet.jpg
Mendel Project - Liquid Metal Furniture - Francois Hurtaud Design - Orchid Art Piece.jpg

Project Manager: Eric Chan | Designer: François Hurtaud | Art direction:  Zhang Yap | Photography: François Hurtaud, Pak Chung | Videography: François Hurtaud | Manufacturing: Ajing Ltd