Sunday, January 3, 2010

Nooka: A Visual System of Telling Time

AS changing trends go, here's a recent piece I wrote for the Fashion section of the Manila Bulletin about a different kind of timepiece that seems to be fast catching on.

Changing the way we think (and tell) time

Telling time has always been pretty simple. Top of the hourglass filled with sand means it’s a new day. Sun on top of the sky means it’s around noontime. Short hand dial pointed at four and long hand pointed at 12 means it’s 4 o’clock on your analog watch. And 7:45 on your digital clock means that it’s, well, 7:45.

Designer Mathew Waldman has found what he calls “a more intuitive way of telling time.” Back in 1997, the founder of the relatively young timepiece brand, Nooka, had a flashback to a first grade math class while staring at a large wall clock in a London hotel.

“I was struck by how few options there were for time display. I then sketched my ideas for potential designs on a napkin and brought them back to New York,” recalls the designer in an interview while he was recently in town to promote Nooka’s latest collection. “There I was able to patent my designs.” He was eventually approached to produce some of them through popular Japanese timepiece manufacturer, Seiko. By 2005, he had already expanded his line of timepieces and began manufacturing and selling them himself under the Nooka brand.

“Nooka watches provide a more visual system of telling the time,” he declares. “The linear and graphic representation of time is certainly more intuitive. You get a sense of time passing as the visual mass increases as the minutes and hours pass by, thereby giving weight to an ephemeral and abstract concept.”

And why the name Nooka, which depending on what part of the planet you come from may sound Asian or European? “Nooka is actually a contraction of “New Yorker” as pronounced with a native New York accent,” Waldman says. “I wanted to evoke a sense of universal language with the name. Hence, Nooka being the first part of “New York” and the last part of “Osaka” expresses a global aesthetic.”

Waldman says that what customers get with Nooka is not a timepiece since it’s marketed more as “a fashion item, a work of art that signifies optimism as well as futurism. There’s not too many like it in the market.”

As a creative director with over 20 years experience crafting corporate identities and design systems for a wide array of clients, Waldman knows his products only too well. His graphic design studio, Berrymatch, creates award-winning videos and web work for clients in the US, Japan and the UK. He is also an artist and educator instructing at the Parsons School of Design and the New School University in New York City as well as producing the Fairy Labor Union art collection that can be viewed in fine art galleries around the world.

And everything in Waldman’s impressive resume is very much reflected in Nooka’s latest collection. In the Zub series which come in colorful polyurethane, Waldman has crafted a unisex design that displays the hours as a progression of 12 dots or 12 bars while at the same time allowing the watch to display the month on the same display with the date in the seconds window.

The AL line is basically what Waldman calls “a new look for a classic watch” with its “Zot and Zoo displays” and aluminum construction for that elegant feel. These AL watches are available in polyurethane band in bright colors including a must-have camouflaged variant.

The Leather collection is equally something to marvel as these timepieces that also come in Zot and Zoo variants are distinguished by a stainless steel housing with LCD display, EL backlight, leather strap and stainless steel buckle.

Aside from their designs, Waldman says Nooka timepieces are also known for “the quality of the materials we use.” “We use fine diamonds and genuine crocodile bands with a digital display, or bold, ambitious colors to complement your sneaker collection. Whatever you wear, there’s a Nooka timepiece that will blend well with them.”

And Waldman is far from done yet. “For our next stage of our brand development, we are introducing our Nooka mindstyle accessories for home and body, such as belts, fragrances and our very own cute Nooka figures,” he says. “Now that we’ve changed the way you think about time, we will change the way you think about other objects in our goal is not just to Nooka-fy the way you use timepiece accessories but also to create, like what I told you, a universal language.”

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