The project was not real simple.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Time Inc. magazine Real Simple wanted to offer “the gift of time” to its harried readers. Inside the April issue, that means shortcut dinners and time-saving tips. And on the cover, it means something more conceptual.
“Time is a very intangible thing — there isn’t a picture of time, and there isn’t a particular image that comes to mind,” said the magazine’s creative director, Janet Froelich. So Ms. Froelich decided to commission clocks from industrial designers, who usually create consumer products or conceptual sculptures.
“A mass-market magazine like this one tends to be more literal with their audience, for the most part, and produce cover shoots that show objects or rooms or people. This is a little bit more like a design magazine in terms of this particular project, but we thought for our anniversary issue, it would be fun to do something special,” said Ms. Froelich, a former art director for The New York Times Magazine.
Harry Allen’s yellow clock has just one hand, which reads “Past” on the top and “Future” below. “It’s just this constant reminder to live in the present,” Mr. Allen said. Other covers have framed photographs arranged around framed hands, by Boym Partners, and a Dali-esque clock of melting numbers, by Scott Henderson. (Real Simple is running three “covers,” one after another, in the April issue.) Readers will also be able download a screensaver clock designed by Alan Dye starting on Monday at realsimple.com/screensaver.
When Ms. Froelich commissioned the clocks in December, she wanted the clocks to be for sale by the time the issue came out. “At first I hoped to get them into production, all three of them, and it became clear that I’m a graphic designer,” she said, adding that it takes more than a year to produce items like this. Still, Ms. Froelich said, she hopes to see them being sold in the future. “We’ll tell everyone, ‘You saw it here first,’ ” she said.
A version of this article appeared in print on March 8, 2010, on page B6 of the New York edition