Renowned Japanese studio Nendo has created a series of four unconventionally shaped hourglasses, carved out from blocks of transparent acrylic.
An hourglass is a device that has been used since antiquity and is still being used in our everyday lives, its shape barely changing over thousands of years. With the advent of digital clocks, the hourglass has transitioned from serving a functional role to convey more of a sentimental value, symbolizing the idea of time.
By examining this simple mechanism of sand falling through a constricted passage due to gravity, and altering the speed and the angle, one can actually change the perception of the flow of time. In other words, the concept of this collection could be said to be “designing time itself”.
Carved from a block of transparent acrylic, the interior cavity of each hourglass has been polished by hand with fine metal needles tipped with abrasives. The resulting fluid shapes are intended to give the impression that time is moving even more freely than it was before.
The series of four designs, titled Variations of Time, include Time Divided, which divides five-minutes-worth of sand between two cavities. Once two minutes-worth of the sand has accumulated in the left chamber, the sand starts falling into the right chamber, counting an additional three minutes.
In Time Converted, the angles of the chambers control the movement of the sand. One way up, the sand travels along a path on the right that takes two minutes. When flipped the other way, the sand is directed over to the left taking just one minute.
When sand falls from the first chamber into the second of the Time Doubled design, it counts “one minute”. Once the sand has drained from the second chamber into the lower one, “two minutes” have passed.
Times Three is made up of three puddle-like chambers that are open at the top. Depending into which chamber the sand is poured, the same amount of sand can count one, two or three minutes.
Nendo will present Variations of Time at this year’s Milan Design Week, as part of a solo exhibition titled Nendo: Forms of Movement. It takes place at Superstudio Più, on Via Tortona 27, between 17 and 21 of April.
all images and film are by Akihiro Yoshida