Fast Company

This Seasonal Clock Will Keep You Thinking About The Present

A clock that takes a year to complete a cycle gives new perspective on the passage of time.

In many instances, it makes sense to measure time in seconds, minutes, or hours--if you're training for a marathon, scheduling meetings, or trying to make it home for dinner on time, there's really no other way to do it. But our obsession with small increments of time often keeps us from focusing on the bigger picture. The Present, a clock from creative firm m ss ng p eces, aims to keep people "in the moment" for longer by telling time in seasons.

The clock takes a year to complete a single cycle, courtesy of a custom microprocessor that turns hours into months. Different colors represent changes in seasons--the winter solstice (top) is marked by pure white, pure green represents the shift into spring, pure yellow marks sun, and red marks the autumn equinox.

There is currently just one prototype of the The Present, with a casing made out of handblown glass, and a face featuring printed aluminum. "As we finalize materials, our main goal is to make the clock have the quality of something permanent--a piece that you'd want in your life for a long time," explains Kate Oppenheim, Director of Strategy at m ss ng p eces, in an email.

M ss ng p eces is launching a Kickstarter campaign this week to get the cash necessary to finalize the material selection design, and manufacturing plans for The Present. Oppenheim says that the ideal retail price will be $150. It's no Clock of the Long Now (a clock that can tell time for 10,000 years), but it's the home version. Placing The Present on your wall might just get you thinking a little more about, well, the present.

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.

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6 Comments

  • Bryan Flynn

    I appreciate the interplay between the metrics of time with the aesthetics of a color spectrum, but I'm left with the feeling that the clock as a tool, in this case, is rendered obsolete. As a result, it's less an object of design, and more an artistic installation to hang on your wall.

    I agree with the previous comment that notes a calendar serves the same purpose. So let's look at this object as a clock-calendar. By the designer's own admission, I won't be able to really tell what day or month it is, so it falls short as a clock and a calendar. It like a thermometer with no numbers; sure you get a sense of the temperature - maybe - but you're out of luck if you're looking to it for information.

    "But you're missing the point. It's less under the oppression of a second hand or digital blink." On this philosophical item, the concept also seems off-target. The designer wants me to use this device to focus on the precious present - living life now rather waiting to recall life lived - yet the face of this clock is a color spectrum. So every time I look up at this reminder to live life in the present, I won't see anything I personally hold dear - in the present. Not my family, my home, my favorite place to hang with friends, etc. Which serves as a stronger reminder that it's time you open your eyes to what's around you: an image of those people and places you cherish today or a color spectrum?

    Again, when science and design intersect, the result can be poetry, and hats off to the designer for working so diligently on his vision. It is a fascinating piece of engineered artwork. But to end on a subjective and blunt note, the humble digital picture-frame-and-clock-in-one my wife got me years back on clearance accomplishes all this proposed clock does, and then some.

  • Eric Rice

    Interesting the different ways people respond to something like this. My first reaction was "why the hell does it need a custom microprocessor?" Like many "designy" things, it's more like over-engineered art than anything else.

  • YYYY

    Hmmm...  We already have something like this and we call it CALENDER!  It is cheap and you can put it on the wall, in your wallet, or on your cell phone/computer.  Why are we reinventing the wheel? 

  • Chris Reich

    My first impression was that it seemed to take a lot of 'work' to produce a clock with a one year cycle. The final product, a simple color face doesn't really remind one of anything. Sure, there is a subtle reminder that you might be half-way to summer or that spring will surely arrive again.

    I think it would be cool if the segments could be chemically based to produce a color in keeping with actual conditions. Such as, if warming up, the color would change from white to green. It would be even better if it could 'fix' the color after each day. That would make a clock that could show not only where one is in the cycle, but seasonal variance from year to year.  That is, wow, this year these days were green and last year we were still in white territory. Comparing all clocks would be a very interesting snapshot of climate variance.

    But then my inclination is to look for application while the designer of this clock may be more philosophical.

    Chris Reich
    www.TeachU.com

  • Javier Moya

    Very interesting clock. Very good as a reminder to stop and smell the roses. 

    However, it's not universal (as time might be), taking into account that (aprox) 70% of the planet lives in the tropics and either has NO idea about "seasons" or they have a very different concept of seasons.Also, the clock needs top and bottom hanging hinges, so it can work in the southern hemisphere.  Additionally, who says the winter solstice is associated with Up?

    Great idea, but it needs tweaking and a better pitch.