Today’s punctual guest post is by our good friend Zack House! He and Jon roomed together throughout college and he is truly one of the most hilarious people we know. Zack is also an extremely knowledgeable graphic designer I would not be the invitation designer I am today without his brilliance and his gift for teaching. As if he didn’t have enough going for him already, he’s also married to the beautiful Bethany who is an incredible baker and craft extraordinaire. Be sure to follow him on twitter (@zachary_house) or visit his portfolio here!
Chronographilia
Thoughts on the design and style of time pieces

Quick, what time is it? Wherever you are sitting right now, I’m willing to bet that you can find out what time it is in 4-5 places. Maybe it’s on your phone, in the system bar of your computer, your watch, your clock on the wall, or on the microwave down the hall. You are surrounded by a constant reminder of what time it is.

But how many of these time pieces convey any of your personality? How many invoke an emotion? How many are designed well? In past generations having a clock in your home was a rare status symbol, one that was likely custom made. It wasn’t until the industrial age that mass production changed this, paving a road where clocks could be picked up for $5 at Wal-Mart.

Every art movement in the past has impacted more than just paintings, but also the design and use of every day objects. So, why don’t we take a step back, and figure out how to take a clock from being just a functional device to something that has style.

1450 – Gutenberg era
When Gutenberg kicked off the printing revolution with his presses, he brought with them the style of the day. Quality was expressed in detail, craftsmanship, and gold. This can be seen in the extremely ornate illustrations in his books, and in the typefaces them selves. These ideals permeated culture everywhere, even clock design. Much like books, only the extreme upper class could afford to have a clock in their home.

1850-1920  – Arts & Crafts, Futurism, and Dada
By 1850, much of the detail and ornateness of the Gutenberg movement had been lost in the face of a desire for cheaper labor and a higher production rate. Queue the Arts and Crafts movement, which desired to return back to a time where craftsmanship had meaning. The clocks of this time valued this craftsmanship, but were not as ornate as the clocks of 1450. This time around, however, clocks were much more accessible to the common people and not just limited to the extreme upper class.

While the Arts & Crafts movement was taking America, Futurism was getting a firm foothold everywhere from England to Russia. Artists that took part in the Futurism movement were defined by abstract shapes, playing with light, and distopian images of the future. Once again, this artistic movement impacted the style and design of the time pieces being created.

Dada (a word that literally means nothing) was an anti-war movement whose ideals eventually touched theory, art, literature, and politics. As an anti-art movement, it existed to destroy traditional aesthetics and functionality. If Arts and Crafts was a movement, this was it’s counter movement. Dada wanted to throw away everything and start over, and instead of being focused on detail or functionality, it held being focused on nothing as its ideal. Obviously, the clocks created in this era could be considered useless, if not also intriguing.

1920 – Constructivism
Originating in Russia, constructivism rejected the idea of art for arts’ sake and the traditional bourgeois class of society to which previous art had been catered. Instead it favored art as a practise directed towards social change or that would serve a social purpose. Developing after World War I, the movement sought to push people to rebuild society in a Utopian model rather than the one that had led to the war.

1940-1970 Modern Art
Modern Art had existed since the late 1800s, but it wasn’t until World War II that it’s focus shifted to the United States. During this time, artists strived to loose the shackles of the restrictions put on their art by previous generations and redefine this form themselves. An era of simplicity emerged, one that birthed many things, including our favorite typeface, Helvetica. This drive towards simplicity hit every area of design, including industrial design and our beloved clocks. Note the simplicity, the complete lack of distractions from the ability to tell the time. Ornateness has been replaced with functionality.

1970-1990 Post Modern Art
Just as Dada was a response to the Arts and Crafts movement,  Post Modern art was a response to the Modern art movement. Post modern artists held an appreciation for the steps taken in the modern movement, but felt that a lot of the design was too sterile and lacked personality. The pendulum swung from clean simplicity to a loud scream of “I LOVE ART”. Once again, this movement impacted clocks and everything else that could be designed.

Clocks and You
Let’s look at some ways you can bring time pieces into your life and home.

Idea 1: The clock wall.
Be on the look out for clocks that appeal to you wherever you go. Whether you are at a junk shop, antique malls, etsy.com, farmer’s market, Michael’s or IKEA, you are likely to find clocks everywhere around you that are for sale at a reasonable price. Start grabbing them up, and dedicate a wall in your home to your favorite clocks! This fun project can be very fluid since it is easy to add more clocks, take some down, or rearrange them whenever you wish.

Idea 2: the DIY clock.
It is extremely easy to make your own clocks. Head over to your local hobby store and pick up a clock kit. They are usually $10-$15 dollars and include all the mechanisms of a working clock. What you will need to do is find or create something you want to be the clock face, make a hole in it, and mount the clock mechanism. Some ideas for clock faces include plates, old vinyl records, DVD boxes, books, canvas, and doors. Virtually anything that you can drill a hole in to can become your very own one of a kind clock.

Idea 3: Buy your husband a nice watch already.
Listen ladies, men don’t get to wear a lot of jewelry. We wear a wedding ring, maybe a class ring, and a watch. That’s it. The wedding and class rings don’t change. The only thing we get to accessorize is our watches. Therefore, they need to be nice, and match what we are wearing. At the very least, a man should have two casual watches (light and dark) and one fancy dress watch. (Tip: Men, match the color of your watch to your shoes, or let your wives dress you). Men notice other men’s watches, especially during events like weddings and job interviews. Ladies, you want your man to look nice and be respected? Do him a favor and buy him a nice watch already, he likely won’t buy one for himself.

Zachary House is a graphic designer that works with churches and ministries. He is also a husband, nerd, and Chronographiliac based in Dallas. He also wants his wife to buy him a nice watch already. Follow him on twitter @zachary_house.

Advertisements