Clocks with Purpose

Who would have thought, as little as ten years ago, that bedside alarm clocks would one day become an archaic symbol of the olden days?

Smart phone alarms and the reliable clocks on our home screens have rendered the bulk of traditional time pieces redundant. Wall clocks have been replaced by smart home assistants; wristwatches have morphed into health-monitoring devices capable of answering our phones and controlling household appliances.

As a result, clocks have undergone a design renaissance of sorts in order to stay relevant in an evolving tech sphere. They’ve gotten wackier, more useful, more creative, and more design savvy. They’ve become décor items and curiosity pieces as opposed to mere utilitarian fixtures of the home — and sometimes that has meant upping those utilities, as well as aesthetics, to the nth degree.

We’ve rounded up some clocks that are serious attention grabbers, multitasking as time pieces and much, much more.

Melancholia Wall Clock


Image via KIBARDIN Design

Designed by Vadim Kibardin, the Melancholia Wall Clock was inspired by the Lars von Trier film Melancholia (2011), which the writer and director began creating after a depressive episode. Kibardin has created a piece that he describes as representing a “clash” that is “romantic and stylized and that which resembles some form of reality.” Emulating what the Prague-based designer views as the empty rituals of reality, at first glance, the clock appears to not tell time at all, rendering the act of checking the time a useless endeavour. Look closer, however, and Kirbardin’s self-described manifestation of postmodernism reveals itself to actually be keeping time with consistency and accuracy — if in a very, very subtle manner. Named for Melancholia’s main characters, sisters Justine and Claire (whose names also happen to be the titles of the two parts into which the film is divided), the minute hand (Justine) and the melancholic hour hand (Claire) operate independently and alone, rarely meeting. Twice a day, however, they meet at the top, until melancholia descends once more between them. Then they resume their independent tempos after a brief respite from loneliness, powered by high torque quartz clock movement.

Macabre? Definitely. But this unique clock plays double duty as a meditative art piece, and for its poetic innovation, it was a Design and Design International Award Winner in 2016. The clock is available in six different colour combinations.

Withings Aura Sleep System

Image via SleepTrackers

The Withings Aura Sleep System is a smart alarm clock with optional advanced sleep tracking built in. The French consumer electronics company has created a chic piece capable of operating as a clock and bedside light and speaker, or as a total sleep system with monitoring capabilities. It operates in tandem with a white cloth sleep sensor, which is designed to be tucked under a mattress in line with the positioning of the chest. When darkness begins to fall, the Aura eases into action with a sunset light spectrum and a decrescendo audio passage, allowing for a gradual release of melatonin in the body that will help induce sleep. In the morning, the Aura mimics sunrise with a blue light spectrum and a gentle crescendo of sound, allowing the body to organically wake. The bedside device uses sensor technology to monitor environmental factors during your REM cycle, like temperature, noise, and light levels, while the under-mattress sensor keeps track of movement, respiration, and heart rate.

All of this operates in cooperation with Withings’ own Health Mate app, which allows the user to keep track of personal stats like the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, the number of times (and duration for which) sleep is interrupted throughout the night, and the percentage of sleep goal achieved.

An added bonus? While this is no petite device, standing at 11 inches, the recessed LED bulb means that the Aura sure looks pretty on a nightstand.



Image via LIFE CLOCK

In some ways the LIFE CLOCK could be considered just as macabre as the Melancholia Clock, but this one is all about preventing disaster as opposed to embracing its ennui-inducing inevitability. Developed by the Gyeonggido Company, a South Korean-based support of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in Gyeonggi Province, this clock represents the collaborative efforts of 18 different SMEs and SWNA design studio. It functions, of course, as a timepiece, but beneath that colourful clock face are basic relief goods that will come in handy in the event of disaster. Housed within is an “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) card, which is an educational item for disaster preparation, a basic disaster and safety manual, two emergency chemical lights, an emergency rescue whistle, an emergency blanket, one roll of compressed bandage, and an SOS flag. While you hopefully will never need to use this one as anything more than a timepiece, it never hurts to be prepared, and the LIFE CLOCK provides peace of mind. And hey ­­— it’s pretty cute, too.