Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Face Recognition

I stumbled across a not so minor miracle of consumer production: the battery-powered travel alarm clock designed by Dieter Rams. Steve Jobs' work was influenced by Rams' design of kitchen amenities. His principles of design are easy to find on the net and well worth a moment of consideration. The one I like best is not to do any more designing that you have to.

In the mid-Seventies, Seattle's Broadway was still a center of high-end European design. The store with the Copenhagen-blue facade offered Rams' clock at a price that was just out of my student reach. I never forgot it, though, and now and then when I was shopping for a travel alarm I would wish for the straightforward, gentle elegance of the original piece I found in that shop. 

Not so long ago, I realized that the clock face on Pomme products is the very one I remembered. A quick surf brought up the clock reissued, and at the same price as the first one. The in-house critic noted that the clock lacks a light for night viewing. That technology wasn't convenient at the time, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the hands of the clock sport old-school glow-in-the-dark technology.

It seems clear that the clock could be the progenitor of Pomme's white laptop case. The clock is a joy to handle. It's fussy to set, but I assume that means it can't accidentally be reset. The graphics are clever and economical. The great surprise of the device is how it handles: the proportion of weight to size is enough to stabilize the small case, and the form seems to exercise the many joints of the manual motor train without stressing them. I feel like I'm shaking Rams' hand when I handle the clock.


There must be a fascinating history of patents and materials encased in it. I don't recall seeing plastic or pigments of that quality in any other consumer products of the period, nor electronics that small and subtle. Sitting on my actual desktop, the little clock is a Seventies beacon into the future -30-

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