Long before the railroads gave us standardized time, people used hourglasses to measure its passage. A precise amount of sand falls from one chamber to another and a set duration of time goes by; flip it over with the same result. Its shape is iconic, so much so that its form colloquially represents time itself despite the fact that it has all but obsolesced as a functional tool.
This year’s Milan Design Week saw the hourglass—unchanged for centuries—completely reimagined by Japanese design studio Nendo. Folks at the studio not only restyled the object but used it to explore our very conceptualization of time by altering the mechanisms by which we normally expect an hourglass to perform. Some of the redesigns incorporate a series of chambers allowing bold-colored sand to travel between them at different rates. See all four inventive takes and their explanations here.
Source: Spoon & Tamago