Design Objects - The Ball Clock (1947)

Rate this item
(1 Vote)

The BALL CLOCK or ATOMIC was designed in 1947 by George Nelson for Howeard Miller Company, and it immediately became an icon of the Fifties. Originally it had a central part made of brass and varnished in red, from which were radiating twelve brass rays with wooden balls at their ends colored same red. The black arrows indicating the time were in geometrical shapes: a triangle to indicate the hour and an ellipse to indicate minutes. Like a molecular structure of an atom, that design was an attempt to calm the nuclear energy. This wall clock free of numbers reflects a metaphysical condition where the time passes without any reference.

In his book “The Design of Modern Design” Nelson deny that this design belong to him or to his partner Irvin Harper, although it was drawn on sketches that were found in his  office latter, a work that he did with  Harper, Buckminster Fuller and Isamu Noguchi. On these drawings, Nelson indicated particularly the model that Noguchi made, although the merits for entire project was given to Irvin Harper.

It was invented in a period of the economic boom in the USA, and it represents the new concept of “modern” that everybody was looking for. Put back into production in 1999 by Vitra Design Museum, the Ball Clock today is available in orange, beech tree, red, brass-black, cherry and multicolored.

Best wishes,


MetropolitanMe Blogger