Scott Thrift: Breaking Free From The Business Of Time [PSFK 2014]

“Time is a reflection of the civilization that chooses to define it,” says the Creative Director of ThePresent, an annual clock.

In anticipation of the PSFK CONFERENCE 2014, we interviewed Scott Thrift, Creative Director & Clockmaker of ThePresent, a revolutionary timekeeping device that displays annual time in colors. Scott spoke at the last PSFK CONFERENCE and we’re excited to have him this year with an update on his project to reinvent how we relate to time and its passing.

What inspired you to design and build ThePresent?

I needed instant access to the wisdom of longevity.

What is the hardest thing about rethinking established systems? 

The challenge in rethinking established systems is making a clear enough contrast between the old and the new. When I think about ‘established systems’ the first thing that comes to mind is time. Until I lived with ThePresent, like everyone else I had been measuring my life by hours, minutes and seconds. The result of which was clear; I was stressed, anxious, running out of time and expected to figure everything out tonight. I had an unhealthy relationship with time.

Time is a reflection of the civilization that chooses to define it. At present, we live and die in a frame of time defined by the industrial revolution. A lot has changed since the industrial revolution.

By shrinking time into tiny measurable bits the ‘established system’ robs us of the immeasurable qualities of time. We limit ourselves by thinking about time as something small and scarce. We say we’re ‘running out of time’ or ‘I’m too busy’ to express our frustration and eventual resentment of time. Time makes us angry, time makes us rush, time makes feel like we’re missing out on life, moment by moment, post by post. It’s no wonder we talk openly about killing time.

Clearly the established system of time is sleeping in and needs a wake up call from the 21st century. I’m equally opportunistic, amazed and embarrassed that 365 day clocks are not more commonplace yet.
I’m in the process of discovering that the only way to ‘rethink’ any established system, especially one as calcified as time, is to provide a tool that magnifies the value of the alternative.

What attracted you to designing a new perspective, physically and mentally?

Physically: This is about experiencing the physical duration of year in person. I needed to make a functional clock to make that point as clear as possible. Knowing the size and shape of a year in the same way you know the the size and shape of an orange is the point.

Mentally: I’m interested in discovering the long term emotional and health benefits of this device personally and for owners around the world. I see what I am doing as more of a science experiment than a marketing campaign.

What do you think is important for all potential creatives to know about the product development process?

Small batches first. Talk to your customers.

What’s one thing we can look forward to (without giving too much away) in your talk at PSFK CONFERENCE 2014?

I am going to talk about what can happen in one year.

Thanks Scott!

Check out our conference page to see more of innovative industry leaders who will be speaking at our event.

We hope to see you at there! Click below to buy tickets.

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