TIME HAS ALWAYS governed how people live. But the precision, and persistence, with which it is measured today leads some people to obsess over how they spend it. “There’s an epidemic of anxiety across the world, people feeling like they don’t have enough time,” says Scott Thrift. “I think that has a lot to do with how we relate to time.”
Nearly five years ago (but who’s counting), Thrift designedThe Present, a clock with no numbers, just a single arm passing over a gradient of rainbow hues suggesting seasonality. The arm needed 365 days to complete one trip around the clock face. The arm ticked so slowly, it appeared not to move at all. It was an interesting way of thinking about time, and destroyed preconceptions of what “present” means. Thrift hoped looking at the clock would let you feel as if you had more time. Those advocating for more mindful living loved it, as did people eager to step off the hamster wheel of life. Thrift raised nearly $100,000 to make The Present. Today you can buy it from the MoMA Design Store.
Now, Thrift is back with a clock he calls Today. The hand makes one revolution every 24 hours, “turning the knob toward practicality,” he says. Like The Present, Today has no numbers and a color gradient—in this case the hues you might see glancing out of an airplane at 30,000 feet.
You can buy a 24-hour clock on Amazon right now. But Today is devoid of the anxiety-inducing cues—numbers, a second hand, that incessant ticking—people associate with rushing. Instead, the clock is divided into four unmarked quadrants. At the top there’s noon, followed by 6 pm, midnight, and 6 am. Today runs half as fast as a regular clock, so the arm goes around just once each day.
Thrift, a filmmaker before he was a clockmaker, has always loved the idea of manipulating time. After all, that’s essentially what filmmaking does. His clocks don’t change time, of course, and they exist in a world that doesn’t abide by a minute-to-minute mentality. People still have deadlines to meet and appointments to make, but Thrift is confident that changing how people perceive time will change how they react to it.