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Friday Focus - Vitra Nelson Sunflower Clock

People have a long track record of turning to Nature for inspiration. It’s easy to see why this process would appeal to us. These forms have been developed and refined by natural forces over hundreds of millions of years to create perfect solutions to specific challenges. Nature is rarely wasteful and invariably creates forms perfectly aligned to functions; the essence of great design. 

We can only benefit from understanding how these forms came about and what they achieve. It was the architect Frank Lloyd Wright who once said: “harmony between human habitation and the natural world through design approaches so sympathetic and well integrated with its site that buildings, furnishings, and surroundings become part of a unified, interrelated composition.”




We respond to natural forms at a physical, intellectual and spiritual level which is why they are used so commonly in our homes and offices, especially as a way of improving our wellbeing. A report from carpet maker Interface authored by researchers Oliver Heath and organisational psychologist Cary Cooper found that employees who work in environments with natural elements report a 15 percent higher level of wellbeing, are 6 percent more productive and 15 percent more creative. This research also confirms that our wellbeing can be nurtured just as much by natural imagery and natural forms as it is by more obvious manifestations of nature such as plants.

A perfect example of this is the Sunflower Clock designed by George Nelson, which he designed in 1957 as part of an extensive series of clocks originally designed for the Howard Miller Clock Company in the US but now sold through Vitra. Finished in lacquered birch and metal, and incorporating a quartz movement, the clock is equally at home in a range of settings, as is often the case with modernist design classics from the era. Its enduring appeal is intimately linked both to the elegance of its design but also its evocation of a natural form. Literally, a timely reminder of our inherent need to surround ourselves with reminders of the outside world.


To find out more about Vitra Nelson Sunflower Clock please click here.
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