Happy Holidays, everyone!

Here is a topical design by a young, up-and-coming designer Thórunn Árnadóttir. The Sasa Clock questions the way we usually look at time – perhaps a useful perspective amidst all the Christmas hurries?

Scroll all the way down, we caught up with the London-based designer for a short chat, too.

Sasa is both a necklace and a clock. The time is read from wooden beads placed over a slowly turning carousel. As the carousel rotates, a bead slips down the cord every 5 minutes. The last bead to have dropped indicates the time.

The beads on the necklace are colour coded to indicate minutes, hours, and 12:00. To tell the time, simply find the gold or silver 12:00 bead that has most recently slipped down the cord. From that point count the number of “hour” beads to find the hour and then the “minute” beads by fives. In the image here the time is 2:25pm. The 24 hour version indicates noon with a gold bead and midnight with a silver bead. The 12 hour necklace indicates noon and midnight with the same bead.

The Sasa clock is available in 12 hour and 24 hour necklace versions.

“Sasa”, in the African Kiswahili language, means “What is now”. The producer Daniel Estes says,

The Sasa Clock™ encourages us to relax and let time flow. It offers us organic time as opposed to atomic time. The ceaseless march of time, measurable in endlessly smaller increments, is a western concept. In many parts of the world, time is not parsed into seconds or even minutes. In some places, people perceive time as speeding up when activities speed up and slowing down when its time to rest. They control time rather than it controlling them.

We need to slow down and relax sometimes. Sometimes to roughly know the time is better than exactly knowing the time. In fact, sometimes we need to completely liberate ourselves from the clock. In these cases, simply remove the beads from the carousel and wear them as a necklace.


Thórunn, where did you get the idea for The Sasa Clock?

Sasa Clock was my final project in my BA studies at the Iceland Academy of the Arts. The idea was born from a fusion of different studies which are connected in a not so obvious way. Initially I explored alternative ways to read the time. I found the method of using beads as a counting system, such as in prayer’s beads and abacuses, very beautiful.

This research lead me to exploring the concept of time further. Clocks have not always existed. I found a lot of interesting articles about how people from different cultures interpret time. Some societies in Africa have a completely different concept of time than we have in a western society. Time, as they experience it, is much closer connected to the individual.

“The African time” is not measured by some device that slices the day to precise units: hours, minutes and seconds. Time is measured in events in the day or life of a person, and thus it is much more closely related to the individual, as opposed to the western concept of time that is completely independent of the individual.


Does being Icelandic influence your work and if, how?

Probably! Being a creative person is always very personal so your background must have a great influence on how you work. I’m not sure exactly how it influences my work because it’s hard to distance myself enough from my own work to analyse it in that way.

A few years ago I made some observations of Icelandic culture and work derived from that. Studying your own heritage also helps you understand other cultures better. I am generally interested in anthropology and the origin of objects or cultural phenomena.


What is your ideology as a designer?

My work is driven by curiosity and interest in exploring different cultural phenomena and materials from new perspectives. Essentially I hope to encourage the user to look beyond their regular assumptions of an object by asking questions about our society and the culture we live in.


And what are you currently up to?

I have had quite a few very exciting opportunities coming up lately, but most of them are only in the very early stages so unfortunately I can’t reveal much yet.

I have been by the Architecture Foundation (UK) to participate in a sort of 3D advent calendar along a shopping street in London.

I participated in an exhibition ÖÖ: Was it a Dream?” in Tallin 22.-28.11.

I am also working on some new products for Daniel Estes, who also produces my Sasa Clock  and Tree/Cloud shelves.

Currently I also have two different projects on display at major exhibitions, one at “Power of Making” at the V&A Museum, and the other one at “O’Clock – Time Design” at Triennale Design Museum in Milano.


The Sasa Clocks are currently on display at Milan’s Triennale Design Museum (until January 8th, 2012). The exhibition “Time Design”, curated by Silvana Annicchiarico and Jan van Rossem, explores the relations between Time and Design.

Sasa is also part of Icelandic Contemporary Design, which is currently on display at Design Forum Finland in Helsinki.

For more information on the Sasa Clock, take a look here, on the exhibition at the Triennale Museum, see here. The clock is also available at the Icelandic design pop-up shop at Design Forum Shop in Helsinki. (until January 8).