What Time Is It, Mr. Baas?

The designer of the year installation at Design Miami, featuring the work of Maarten Baas.

DM_mb.jpgWhat are the boundaries of design? When this question was posed to Charles Eames in 1969, he responded famously in the interrogative: “What are the boundaries of problems?” Forty years later, Design Miami asked Maarten Baas, its 2009 Designer of the Year, the same question concerning where design begins and ends. “Every day there are only 24 hours in which that day has to happen,” replied Baas, 31, in an interview published in the Design Miami catalogue.

The Dutch designer eschews definitions. “I believe in a kind of organic way of seeing things,” he said, “like a super-soup in which everything is moving.” Several of the most recent projects to emerge from his super-soup were on view at Design Miami as part of a special exhibition that included the first stateside retrospective of Baas’s career (charred chairs, clay fans, Flinstone-y office furniture). Among the most crowd-pleasing was “Real Time,” a series of work that injects an eye-catching human element into the documentation of time passing. His “Grandfather Clock” (pictured above) replaces the conventional clock face with a 12-hour looped film of a man drawing the clock hands (or is he trapped inside?), while the “Sweeper Clock” keeps time with carefully tended piles of garbage. Baas has even found a way to humanize the blazing red digits of a digital clock, to mesmerizing effect. Make time to see Baas’s works in action—videos are posted below.