The wearable watch designed by All Design Lab
A few years ago, during a University Design Laboratory, our lecture told the class to design a tool to measure time for children, while helping them understand it. It was assumed that reproducing the mechanical features of a clock was off the table.
Throughout the struggling session of briefing and concepting, Albert Einstein’s quote “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself” kept spinning in my head.
How do we explain time, though? Would I know how to explain it to a child? And which one of the multiple facets of it I’d choose?
Are there other ways to quantize the passage of time? Or, what if measuring it mathematically shouldn’t be the ending point?
Does the time simply exist as proof we get old?
At first, it was not that easy, but the Project was based on a huge blank page that boosted the creativity and triggered the designers’ ability to tap into everyday life for inspiration.
A few years later, about a month ago, I came across the game-changing product concept of All Design Lab, MOMENTUM.
Throughout the collaboration with the footwear and fashion designer Miguel Peña the US-based studio All Design Lab, challenged the traditional hour-based system watches, by creating MOMENTUM, a unique piece that attempts to evolve from the traditional time-telling, by repurposing its flowing.
All Design Lab is a multi-disciplinary design studio that works on creating brands, products, and visual stories. They are used to play around with design explorations that result in a clever rewriting of concepts, such as the inflatable eyewear, whose roots lie in a larger research within the fashion world.
Deliberately inspired by the Stem Player by Kanye West and Kano, MOMENTUM uses the human matter as a canvas to build the product, much in the way the hidden need to interact physically with music plays its role in the first case.
What if we imagined time center not around hours but rather moments and habits throughout the day? they asked themselves, as an insight in the first project’s steps.
Well, I gasped reading this. Maybe because the suggestion is in line with a significant reading I’m currently into, “How to do nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” by the artist, writer, and lecturer of the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University, which offers a contemporary cutaway of how much addictive technology has become for people and how our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity: a kind of a spiral where instincts and human behaviors are deteriorating in favor of a society that outsources to measurable results the people value.
Despite the linear standardization that common culture historically took as a way to live in society, following a positivistic approach for explaining phenomena, the time has been a fascinating fluid concept throughout the decades that men strived to handle.
WHAT ABOUT UNQUANTIFIABLE NEEDS
All Design Lab played with a millenary human matter while confirming the thesis behind Jenny Odell’s book: the innate adaptive nature of the human species needs a responsive environment that suits their evolution, physically, mentally, and economically, even in small actions.
So, MOMENTUM aims at visualizing the passing of time, according to the quality of the time people are spending.
Momentum will rotate faster or slower, visualizing to the user that their time is either being seized or wasted
MMNTM, All Design Lab
Malleable and wearable, it is conceived to blend into the user’s body, physically, while discussing how the actual displaying of seconds, minutes, and hours “restrict the creative mind”, as the psychological caring side of the product. The challenge was then to create a functional object based on an abstract method of conceiving time flowing.
The result is a wearable kinetic sculpture featuring 45 individual fins that move up and down and spin together at varying speeds. The fins showcase the momentum of the user’s actions throughout the day.
Even if the “judgment” between good or bad habits could be taken as too sharp in its splitting, it displays the core approach in building MOMENTUM as a “positive” object, that could generate some new thoughts and discussion in the community.
As users, we are used to keeping track of our habits, but in terms of performance (just think of smartwatches in the market) that give us results, in final.
MOMENTUM obviously needed to categorize some diffuse bad behaviors (scrolling endlessly, sitting for too long, working late) where time is spent carelessly, or habits many users see as positive (exercising, having lunch, meditating, having a walk).
In the first case, the fins increase the spinning, just like a computer fan when it overloads in CPU functionality, while in the second, it would calmly rotate giving peaceful feedback.
The obsession for displayed performance is substituted with a very individual tool that connects contingent behavior in order to straighten up or cheer habits. The modularity of the features is an active part in enhancing the individual use: it creates an “up-to-you” product, which can be magnetically attached to the unibody textured silicon strap or just hidden in a pocket.
This creates a positive connection to technology as well not by passively receiving and collecting data, but by making the user aware of abstract feelings which are not measurable in any way.
At least, until now.