Time, or the idea of it, has forever been a fixation of man. For hundreds of years the determining and recording of the time was a central part of daily life. Mayan tribes even believed that they had to help time move forward with sacrifices and rituals. It was through the changing position of the sun that we first became able to make an accurate guess at what time it is and we have been obsessively developing our means of time telling ever since. Today we take clocks for granted, but without them our lives would be utter chaos- how you get to work on time or when it was time to go home? How would you cook a meal or catch your favourite T.V. show? More importantly how would traffic lights or air travel work safely? If the wheel is our greatest invention, the humble clock can’t be far behind.
With its need for perfect balance and symmetry, its simple makeup of twelve static points and two “hands”, the clock was quickly recognized by designers as a perfect muse for great design. Because of this, these days we are spoilt for choice with the plethora of beautifully designed and crafted clocks on the market, to the point where we now buy clocks as much for their decorative qualities as their functional purpose.
In the garden for example, though technology has rendered them completely obsolete, the stone sundial remains on of the most desirable pieces of outdoor design you can own. They bring with them an innate sense of history and a magic born out of a time when myths and legends were alive and well.
The significance of the clock has meant some of the greatest designers in history have attempted to give us their take on the timepiece. Probably the most notable and certainly the most prolific is George Nelson. An American furniture designer who, along with Charles Eames, revolutionised interior design during the 1940s and 50’s, George Nelson’s clocks are amongst the most recognizable and sought after pieces of design even today. Probably the most famous and widely spread example is his Spool clock. Designed in the 1940’s, its spiky face complete with geometrically shaped hands has found its way into most peoples homes over the following sixty or so years. With obvious inspiration coming from the sun- the original clock- this forward thinking piece of design is just as at home in a retro themed room as in it is in a contemporary setting- it is timeless (is that a good thing for a clock?!).