The Ball Clock is one of George Nelson’s most iconic clock designs. Nelson had been known to collaborate with other designs, and the Ball Clock was no exception. In 1948, George Nelson was at a dinner party with fellow designers, Isamu Noguchi, Irving Harper, and Bucky Fuller. After having “a little bit too much to drink” the crew began sketching designs. They awoke the next morning to the wholly pleasant surprise of the Ball clock design sketched on a roll of drafting paper. However, none of the men could remember who exactly had drawn the masterpiece. “I don’t know to this day who cooked it up,” Nelson would later report. He explained, “I know it wasn’t me. It might have been Irving, but he didn’t think so. [We] both guessed that Isamu had probably done it because [he] has a genius for doing two stupid things and making something extraordinary out of the combination. It could have been an additive thing, but we never knew.” (George Nelson: The Design of Modern Design; pp 111).
Despite its uncertain origins, the ball clock’s design has become one of the most recognizable clocks from the modernist designer. It was originally designed for Herman Miller, which manufactured the Ball clock (as well as George Nelson’s other clocks) until the 1980′s. Today it is manufactured by Vitra design museum, which obtained the rights to produce the designs again in the 1990s. The ball clock can can be found in the multicolored version featured above, as well as in natural, orange, walnut, and white colors.