Gong Repeater by Jordi Pla

This Spanish designer creates a wall clock that forces people to slow down.

Spanish designer Jordi Pla Sabaté has designed an unusual wall clock that tells you the time only when you want to know it. But don’t expect an instant answer; this is a clock that will force you to take a few moments from your busy schedule while you count the gong sounds it makes.

The Gong Repeater is a contemporary reworking of an old-fashioned gong that chimes the hour and minutes in response to the wave of a hand. “When a hand passes the installed sensor, the clock rings hours, quarters and minutes,” says Sabaté, referring to the three different sounds assigned to each time period.

The user must count the sounds to tell the time: so 9:50 for example is nine high-pitched single-tone gongs followed by three double-tone gongs (one for each quarter of an hour) and five lower single tones (indicating five minutes).

The project came about when Sabaté visited the headquarters of Swiss watchmaker Vecheron Constantin, where he was inspired by the mechanical workings of fine watchmaking. He was inspired by Vecheron Constantin’s minute repeaters – a mechanical watch that chimes out the time in a press of a button – to explore the relationship between time and sound in an unconventional way.

For centuries the gong has been a way to communicate time passing and so I was keen to create a device that would indicate time through sound, he says.

The clock is made from aluminium and features a built-in brass bowl. “In order to give a unique and mystic dimension and transmit ancestral values, I have chosen to work with a brass bowl from Tibet,” explains Sabaté. “Used for prayers, this object is the heart of my project.” 

Sabaté is a recent graduate of ECAL and runs his luxury product design studio JPLA Studio in his hometown, Barcelona. The Spanish designer has since developed furniture, products and accessories for leading manufacturers including Baccarat and Normann Copenhagen.  

The Gong Repeater will be part of “Telling Time”, an exhibition exploring the dialogue between the history of the watch and the ways in which contemporary designers have chosen to represent the concept of time. The exhibition takes place at the Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts in Lausanne, Switzerland form 27 May to 27 September 2015.

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