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O’Clock: Time Design, Design Time at La Triennale di Milano Museum

(Part of Milanese Adventures Day Two)

The Clock Clock

Emanuelsson & Bastian

Humans Since 1982


Time stresses me out. I hate the idea of wasting time. I hate it even more when other people waste my time (if time must be wasted at all, I’d rather waste it as I choose). And when I lie in bed at night, after stressing about wasted daytime I could have filled with—what ?(glorious things, surely-and there I go again, wasting time with thoughts of what I could have done with the time I wasted)—I start to count the hours of sleep I have left. I really need my 8 hours of sleep.

When I realize I have to get up so early that I won’t get my 8 hours, I start to worry. I’ll be all tired tomorrow, and as a result do stupid things with far-reaching consequences…and all the while, time is ticking. Oh no, I’ll realize at one point, tick tick tick, I’m going to get even less sleep now. And worry even more, so that I can’t sleep. It’s a vicious cycle.

Tomorrow’s basically ruined now, I think as I drift into timed slumber.

In a sense, my behaviour is just a reflection of modern wo/man’s general attitude towards time (with a hefty dose of my own neuroses thrown in). Modern wo/man is always in a hurry, wanting to fill time with quality activities. Such as making more money. If there’s a free minute where modern wo/man’s not doing all that much, modern wo/man needs to be on Facebook and check e-mails AND…turning the idle moment into an amazing feat of multi-tasking. There’s a certain pressure to always be busy, and everyone’s greatest fear is wasting precious time.

The exhibition O’Clock: Time Design, Design Time is an examination of the theme of time in our time, through contemporary objects. Specifically time in the context of design is dealt with in an interesting way. Time-design mainly revolves around practical aspects, time as a thing to be measured, something we live with on a banal level, every day. The objects shown in this exhibition go beyond the simple element of the functional: these are design pieces that really engage with the theme of time, instead of simply taming it for daily use.

The exhibition engages with the passage of time, objective and subjective, of time as an experience. It does this divided into three sections. The first deals with the measurement of time, the second with time travel and objects that try to stand outside of time, the third shows interactive objects, objects that move, installations that more actively deal with the theme of time.

The layout is well thought-out, and is different in each section. In the relatively dark first section, objects are displayed on elements of a broken grid, painted a bright green. The second is very light and simple, and the third presents different objects grouped together on plinth-like little “stages”.

There is even a “fast track” route that can be taken through the exhibition. This is intended to be a kind of joke or cynical commentary on “exhibition time”: usually, we-the people of our time-welcome opportunities to save time, whereas in an exhibition, one pays for the time to contemplate objects. I’m not sure how well the concept works in practice, however: when I came in, tired tourist that I was, I thought to myself that the fast-track-option was kind of strange. I did not think, oh, what an insightful comment on the difference between normal time and exhibition time.

The variety of objects, made using very different materials and processes, is great. There are videos on show, installations, an interactive animation, paintings, knitted objects, and a clock made of a taxidermy bird. Work that would be considered to be part of the fine art realm (good old Damien also has two, in my opinion not particularly impressive pieces in the exhibition) is presented alongside hand-made objects, industrial product design and things that might be best classifies as belonging to the science world.

O’Clock: Time Design, Design Time is an absorbing and wide-ranging exhibition.  In the last section of the show, words of wisdom are painted on the backs of the display stands. One such super insightful quote reads:

“We are the creators of time…the victims of time and the killers of time.”

-Super insightful line spoken by Willem Dafoe to Otto Sander in Wim Wenders’ Faraway, So Close!-

Some of my favourite pieces include:


Daily Life Wall Clock

Dongjin Byeon Design


Digi Clock

Maxim Velcovsky


The Grandmother Clock

From the series Floating Frames

Kiki van Eijk



Gomitolo Clock

Carlo & Benedetta Tamborini

Diamantini & Domeniconi




The BEST holidays

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