Function be Damned! Expressive Clocks Don’t Always Tell Time


It’s not too often that I’m in the market for a wall clock. But when I am, I gravitate toward the clock that’s more objet d’art than, well, clock. By definition, a clock is a device other than a watch that measures and indicates time. But in the design realm, a clock is a work of art that tends to be vague about the time. Which is fine, most of the time.

Yes, we have our cell phones to check the time, but isn’t it nice to have a clock hanging in your kitchen, bathroom, or office? I find that a simple clock on the wall can really pull a room together. But sometimes the numbers on the clock face just don’t work with the décor. The numbers are the wrong size or the wrong font or, god forbid, roman numerals. Despite the complete lack of functionality in these numberless clocks, they do look good. The Walter Wayle II wall clock (above) is just as likely to be interpreted as an animated avian sculpture as a way to tell time, but it could be just the piece your dining room needs.

George Nelson Ball Clock. This way no one can tell them it’s too late to have another scotch.

The famed Ball Clock may have George Nelson’s name attached to it but supposedly the iconic, candy-colored clock is the product of a boozy dinner party with Isamu Noguchi, Irving Harper and Buckminster Fuller in 1948. The morning after, they saw a drawing of the clock on a roll of drafting paper (oh, designers). To this day no one really knows who created the timeless Ball Clock, which Design Within Reach sells in the $300 range.

What is that? Oh, it’s 10 after 10.

While each of these clocks have some semblance of measurement and indication of time, they don’t have minute markings and do sacrifice precision and punctuality for beauty. But who cares if you’re late to your conference call or burn the casserole in the oven? You have a beautiful clock and a permanent conversation piece.


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