Our “Cultivate Your Orchid Child” design has been a long time in the making… over two years, in fact. It all started with me reading a Scientific American article, “On the Trail of the Orchid Child”, outlining kids’ biological sensitivities and susceptibility to different environmental factors. The article explores how most children are like dandelions, hardy and capable of adapting to virtually any environment they may find themselves in. In contrast, orchid children are more sensitive and, like their floral counterparts, need specific environmental ingredients before they can truly thrive. If they don’t receive the care they need, they wither away.
The idea is that orchid children are more sensitive to their environments than their dandelion peers. The article goes on to explore the role that genetics plays in kids’ capacity for resilience, and identifies one gene in particular that may have a critical role in the development of orchid children: CHRM2. Interestingly, this same gene is linked to alcohol dependence, and behavioural disorders. But more intriguing to me is what happens when orchid children receive the nurturing they so desperately need. Those rare yet sensitive children have the potential to become “a flower of unusual delicacy and beauty,” according to the authors of the original study, Bruce J. Ellis and W. Thomas Boyce. Ellis and Boyce are human development specialists from the University of Arizona, and the University of California, Berkeley, respectively.
Here at Tilted Windmills we believe in the power of diverse skill-sets, abilities, lived experiences, ideas, and ways of being in the world. When I read this article I thought about the many kids out there who are born with what society labels a disability, or kids who exist outside of typical gender norms. We focus specifically on issues around (dis)ability and gender nonconformity, because we have lived experience with them. With my partner Athena, I started to think of ways we could raise awareness and celebrate the wonderful diversity that makes up humanity, especially when it comes to these children. But of course this doesn’t apply to them alone – any child who has ever experienced being an outsider in one way or another can benefit from a loving and nurturing environment.
Athena, our resident artist, took the ball and ran with it, and the result is a beautiful design that captures something of the ideas I just described. Tilted Windmills’ Orchid Child campaign is about embracing the beauty and vulnerability all children represent.
The design is a layered, multimedia creation that includes Athena’s original acrylic painting of the dandelion field and digitally manipulated photographs of the orchid and child. It suggests a field of dandelions outside a greenhouse that shelters the delicate orchid and curious child.
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Cultivate Your Orchid Child
Concept by: Stefan // Design by: Athena