I’m up and it’s late. Like really, really late. Or maybe it’s early for you and you just got up for a Nike+ Run Club jog. But for me it’s late and I'm up thinking about time; time captured and time wasted. The clock tics down as I now have less than 3 hours until my iPhone alarm has to wake me for the long day I have ahead of me. As I surf the web stumbling upon inspiration while setting multiple alarms in my iPhone, my thoughts trailed back to my childhood; back to the black Braun AB1 clock that sat at my bedside. Designed by Dieter Rams in 1971, the Braun AG AB1 battery-operated alarm clock is a modern classic that is now in a number of permanent museum collections worldwide noted for it’s minimalist styling and highly graphic aesthetic. Each day this striking piece of technology would awaken me for school, but it was also integral in laying the foundation of my artistic aesthetic.
When my room was pitch black, I would stare at the glow-in-the-dark hands. When my room was lit, I would stare, fascinated at how deftly colour was implemented to instruct me how to operate the device. I loved the use of the sharp green as a directional tool. It’s placement on the alarm hand and how it was perfectly tied into the alarm dial on the back of the casing and would then peek-a-boo at you when the alarm button was set upward. The addition of yellow on the second to accent the piece offered just the right amount of visual pop to nail down the sublime balance of line and font on the clock face.
Looking back, the language in which the clock spoke to me was very clear but this was well before I had any formal grasp or understanding of art, design and the brilliance of Dieter Rams. This product, as well as a host of others he created, began to form the tapestry of design, style and cultural references that (to this day) influence my art and life. My parents coffee in the morning was brewed by his imagination, while my father’s face was freshly shaven by his insight. I admire the attention to detail artists like Dieter have taken in creating timeless classics from a list of potentially mundane household items.
I encourage you to expect more from your own housewares and seek out exceptional items such as this. Their influence can be great in helping shape the imagination of young and old alike.