The time might be all around us - on our mobile phones, microwaves and televisions - but nothing beats telling it the old fashioned - or indeed newfangled - way; by table or wall clock. Now designers are creating ever more appealing and unconventional time-telling devices for the home.
The use of unusual materials is one of the ways the purely functional has been made covetable.
Take the 4th Dimension Table Clock, designed by Sean Yu of Taipei-based design house 22 Design Studio (www.22designstudio.com.tw) for example. Stark in its simplicity, the cement piece has a spiral-like design and comes with slender white hands. The clock retails for US$200 through the company's website, and the brand is available at Kapok (5 St Francis Yard, Wan Chai, tel: 2549 9254) and Protest Design (19 Shing Wong Street, Central, tel: 2818 8318).
Then there's the Felt Clock, by German designer Sebastian Herkner, a wall clock made of a charcoal grey, sound-absorbing fabric. The hours are marked by simple raised bars while the hands come in complementary shades of grey, white or orange. The clock, which debuted this year at the Leff Amsterdam trade show, costs €119 (HK$1,203) at www.sebastianherkner.com
United States-based architect Mark Ejnes recently unveiled the About Face timepiece (www.aboutfaceclock.com) which can be hoisted and displayed at least a dozen ways. Made of powder-coated steel and available in white, yellow or grey, the clock comes with a "hanger" bracket, onto which slide slotted parts in the back of the clock that allow it to be turned at any angle.
Haoshi Design, based in Taiwan, offers perhaps one of the most artful of the new crop of designer clocks. The brand's Swallow clock, made from white resin, comprises a dozen graceful birds arranged on a wall. The clock comes with a position marker chart, and sleek black hands in the centre. Swallow is available through haoshi.com.tw for US$150 or at Konzepp (50 Tung Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 2803 0339).
Japanese brand Nendo (www.nendo.jp) this year unveiled an intriguing set of clocks as part of its collection for Italian luxury bathroom brand Bisazza Bagno. The clocks are streamlined - a rounded shape set into a white frame - and designed to be used on their own or as a set.
Still in the prototype phase is a small, circular desk clock by British designer Max Phillips (max-phillips.co.uk) that can be modified to become a light source - or a container - depending on which panel of switchable glass is inserted.