Alarm clock aesthetics

I never thought it would be so difficult to find a well-designed — functionally and aesthetically — alarm clock. The two in our home now are both quite old, and some of their more basic functions recently ceased to operate. Thus we’ve been thinking about purchasing a new model for some months now.

I checked Walmart to no avail before heading over to They have a large variety of items with competitive prices and a large number of user reviews. I was stunned at the hideous objects that resulted from my search. Apparently alarm clocks haven’t been redesigned in thirty years.

Of course, there are a few space-age exceptions, as well as your more expensive iPod ready fair with decent minimalist aspirations, in line with Apple products. However, I’m not so much into the coldness of the space-age aesthetic, and both of these options cost more than I wanted to pay for a simple alarm clock.


We ended up with the little clock above. It possesses all of the functionality we wanted, which was basically two alarms, a radio and the ability to set times both forward and backward. But you can’t read the time from halfway across the room. The time is backlit, and neither my wife or I can make out the digits from the bed to the dresser. Further, it’s quite bright and potentially interferes with sleep.

Oh, and the wife doesn’t like the looks of it either. I still contend it’s the best from among the options I found, but she’s correct when observing that the design is more or less blah, and that the white color pops whereas black would recede.

This is problematic. The little thing just won’t work for us, but I dread starting the seemingly futile search over again. I don’t need gimmicks, which there are an abundance of. I just want something that looks good and functions.

Perhaps we need to bring back certain principles espoused by the Bauhaus, where aesthetics were at least some part of industrial design.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

4 Responses to Alarm clock aesthetics

  1. Tim J. says:

    I find both Bauhaus and De Stijl to be inhumanly cold. Both styles gained ascendancy when industrialization was really still ramping up and many elites entertained for a while the delusion that mass production was an exhilarating and inspiring prospect, or that the Machine Age symbolized some kind of spiritual triumph.


    But, what *is* one to do for an alarm clock?

    You could always try your hand at Steampunk. You’re a handy fella.

  2. pNielsen says:

    I’m not too fond of Bauhaus architecture either (although it’s not nearly as inhumane as some of what you find in the pages of Dwell!), but their minimalistic design works well in a lot of object design IMHO.

    Steampunk would be fun. However I don’t have enough time for my art right now . . .

  3. Sarah says:

    I’ll have to send a pic of the world’s greatest alarm clock. I got it when I was ten and lived in Japan. It’s wonderful!

  4. pNielsen says:

    Don’t be a tease. If it’s really that great, send me the clock!

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