Free Time?

Posted by Happy Landings - October 24, 2010

This is a clock developed by Icelandic product designer, Thorunn Arnadottir. He explains how the clock works on his site(

“Each bead in the necklace
represents 5 minutes, and the whole necklace a one solar day.

The orange and red beads represent the whole hours.

As the wheel turns, one bead falls off and drops down the string.

To tell time one must count the beads from the silver bead (midnight) or the golden bead (noon) to the last bead that fell off the wheel.”

Arnadottir explains that one of his aims in designing this clock was to create a measure of time contrary to the usual “rigid units by which most of us slice up our day.” One can see that, as the hours pass, the beads change color. His use of a gold bead to signal midnight is also quite telling. Waxing superstitious, it’s an enchanted hour, the time when the unnatural and supernatural have a chance to enter the world. In darkness and alone, this moment allows a sort of repose from the dictates of the day. I’m speculating here, of course. The beads are removable from their winding cradle and are able to be worn like a necklace:

The beads may also be removed from the string and rearranged. Arnadottir is not the first designer I’ve seen recently encouraging, through his work a more “emotional” perception of time but this piece is one of the most beautiful. I don’t know how convinced I am that the gesture of removing the beads and wearing them around the neck claims that one is “in control of your[his/her] minutes.” It’s a fantasy: an expression of a desire for a less regimented notion of time. This clock, if taken up on its offer of “liberation,” is rendered non functioning because it no longer tells time when worn as an accessory. Still, the act of rearranging the beads is compelling. The owner is intimately acquainted with the passage of time and is sort of empowered, not as Arnadottir claims, to be in control of time, but, rather, in what they want the minutes to mean. It allows for a more deliberate and engaged usage of time. In this way it is, at least, conceptually empowering.

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    Time as fashion, that is very interesting. Nice post.