The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Design Memories …
January 20, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Family, Focus Groups, Insight, Mum & Dad, Research, Sentimentality

I have written a lot about the hypocrisy and complexity of humans.

For all the claims that we are generally consistent and sensible, the reality is we are simply good at hiding our truth.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I was on a plane from Zurich, flicking through the duty free catalogue.

To be honest, I do this all the time – never buying anything – just looking at the tat that is being flogged at 30,000 feet.

But that all changed when I saw this:

Now, as you may have guessed by the quality of photo, this isn’t the picture from the catalogue, it’s actually the picture I took of the product after I purchased it.

Now you may be wondering why I bought a clock?

Or why I bought a clock from a plane?

Well, contrary to popular belief, it is not because I have an insatiable need to spend my money … nor is it because I have an obsession with knowing the time … it’s because it reminded me of the Braun alarm clock my parents had when I was a kid.

Yes … I appreciate that means I’m a sentimental old fart – not to mention Braun are a bunch of lazy bastards in terms of design updates – but the fact is, with my parents gone and my family home totally refurbished, having things that connect me to my family life are becoming even more precious and important to me.

Yes, I know people say ‘but you have your memories’, but frankly – at least for me – that’s not enough, I crave something more tangible, more real, more in the present.

I can’t actually remember how or why my parents got their clock. Part of me thinks it was a free gift when they enquired about some insurance policy or something, but regardless of the reason, it cemented itself in my consciousness.

I remember how my parents used to use it as their alarm clock, placed on Dad’s side of the bed so he could hit snooze in the morning.

I remember how I would always hear it’s distinctive alarm tone from my bedroom. Followed by the slap of a hand on the snooze button before it repeated itself 8 minutes later.

I remember how I would go into their bedroom at weekends and move the ‘alarm hands’ so I could set the sound off over and over again.

It might be a small thing, but to me it’s a big thing because I don’t see it as an alarm clock purchased on a plane from Zurich, I see it as a memory of my past that I’ve been able to bring back into my present and that makes me feel good, warm and – in a bizarre way – a bit safe.

I know there’s no logic to that, I know it is all in my head, but people are funny like that.

Regardless what moderators in focus groups might say.

26 Comments so far
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It’s important to have momentos like that. I can’t throw away Christmas/Birthday cards. It’s a problem. I have all of my cards from when I was a baby up until now.

Comment by M

Hi M … my wife has that problem, she has even kept the first toothbrush I bought for her. Just to be clear, I bought it when we first started going out and she started staying at my house a lot … it was not a birthday present or anything.

Comment by Rob

Hahaha I get it don’t worry. It’s what keeps us human 🙂

Comment by M

If it works for you Rob, it works. And to be perfectly honest, it represents more financial and emotional value than most things you’ve purchased so you can feel “extra” positive about your purchase.

Comment by Pete

Good point Pete. It does … and I don’t even use it, I just stare at it each day.

Comment by Rob

International device of torment, exquisitely crafted and no doubt priced for the connoisseur.

Comment by Chris

The only thing I don’t agree with this is when you say you don’t have an insatiable desire to spend money. Maybe what you meant to say is you don’t have an insatiable desire to spend money on things others think are worth the price you paid for them.

Comment by DH

That hasn’t come out right. It sounds like I’m praising your good taste. I wasn’t.

Comment by DH


Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

you sweet, sentimental, more money than sense fucking idiot.

Comment by andy@cynic

It was 50 euros. OK, that’s not cheap for what is a basic clock, but you know perfectly well I’ve spent way more on way less in my time.

Comment by Rob

fuck yes. youve cost me a fuckload more than that and i got fuck all in return.

Comment by andy@cynic

Robots, houses, weird art, t-shirts, kickstarter, gadgets, queen collectables, windmills, birkenstocks, concerts, courses. Shall I go on?

Comment by DH

Please don’t … in future years Otis will see this and realise why his inheritance was pants.

Comment by Rob

are you going to blame your 70s taste in music and fashion on your parents too. bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

I remember those clocks Robert. I think my parents also received theirs as part of an insurance policy enquiry.
I find it reassuring the clock and the Braun company are still going strong. It says well designed, well made, well run products and companies can still win in competitive times which should serve as a reminder to the marketing community that it is not how loud you shout, but how well you do what you do.

Comment by George

May I ask how much it was?

Comment by George

50 euros.

To be honest, I didn’t realise how much that was until I got back to China and remembered different currencies have different values. Ha.

That said, I think that’s pretty cheap for a time machine that took me back to my family.

Comment by Rob

Nice post Rob though the reason that clock is so significant to you is because of your memories. You may have found a way to bring them into the present, but it’s still founded on memories.

Comment by Pete

That’s true. But I suppose the difference is many people suggest the memories in your head are enough and I’m saying that sometimes they’re not … and if there’s a way to realise them, it’s worth it. At least for me.

Comment by Rob

fucking smartarse.

Comment by andy@cynic

I have one of those clocks Robert. A design classic. That said, I would have thought the travel alarm clock market was dead. Apparently not. Similar to George, this makes me smile.

Comment by Lee Hill

I know …

Maybe there’s others like me who worry that when they’re on trips and use their phone or iPad for an alarm, they run the risk of people calling them in the middle of the night because their timezones are now different.

Or is that just me?

Comment by Rob

Memories from the past are always more attractive they had no uncertainty because they had already passed. Any object that brings those memories caries the same values.

Comment by Salman Kidwai

[…] was very sad, because – like the Braun Bedside Clock – it was something that was a real connection to my parents, so I wrote to Texas Instruments […]

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