Artists and designers explore notions of time at Milan's Triennale Design Museum.
By Laurie Kahle, October 28, 2011
While watchmakers use technical creativity to measure time, artists and designers recently sought to creatively interpret time at O’Clock—time design, design time, a Panerai-sponsored exhibition that runs through January 8, 2012, at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan, Italy. At the exhibit’s opening on October 11, Panerai’s CEO Angelo Bonati spoke about the importance of design in watchmaking and one of the stars of the show, English artist Damien Hirst. “He has always been an avid collector of our watches,” said Bonati, who took credit for suggesting the use of Panerai dials as a medium. Hirst obliged with two spin paintings: the large Beautiful Sunflower Panerai Painting and a zoomlike version on the same theme, Beautiful Fractional Sunflower Panerai Painting. For both pieces, Hirst adhered dozens of varied Panerai dials without hands to the psychedelically painted canvases in a vibrant expression that conveys a sense of time flowing by.
Hirst’s colorful works were relatively straightforward among the myriad concepts of about 80 international artists and designers who attempted to answer such questions as: How can time be measured? How can passing time be shown? How can time be experienced? The show’s three sections displayed works specifically created for the event as well as existing pieces. Michael Sans, for example, rethought the cuckoo clock by placing a digital clock on the preserved body of cuckoo bird that died of natural causes in 1958. Eske Rex constructed an imposing pendulum-driven drawing machine that etches continual ellipses on a paper-covered floor. Albin Karlsson’s 2007 work 0.5 g/min constantly evolves with a ceiling-mounted container of melted wax that spins and releases a drop of wax to fall to the floor once per hour. Martin Baas’ Grandfather Clock (Real Time) I (2009) is a grandfather clock with the dial replaced by a video of a man continually erasing and drawing in the clock’s hands to symbolize that man, rather than mechanical devices, move time. In addition to her buglike time machine and an interactive piece inspired by the rushing white rabbit in The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, who also designed the exhibition, created an installation I mondi di Officine Panerai (The worlds of Officine Panerai), which traces Panerai design from the first Radiomir wristwatches built in 1938 to present-day pieces. Eight models are displayed in separate cases, in which they are depicted as characters in scenes that express humor and poetry.
Panerai chose to unveil one of its 2012 novelties at the event as well. The Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days – 47mm (Ref. PAM0042) is a next-generation version of 2011’s PAM372, which took inspiration from a 1940s-era model. The stainless steel timepiece is powered by a new Panerai calibre P.3001 movement with large bridges and two barrels that generate three days of power reserve, which is indicated on the main bridge visible through the case back. With its clamp-down crown protector, rounded cushion-shaped case and luminous, stylized indexes, the model stands as a pure expression of Panerai design, which has evolved with the passing decades yet remains true to the original codes of the brand, which traces its history back to 1860, when Giovanni Panerai opened a watchmaker’s shop in Florence, Italy.