2016 / NEW YORK





On the Elasticity

and Subjectivity

of Time

Introduction & Research

In Turkish culture there are two words to describe time.


First is Zaman. It refers to measured time – demarcated in seconds, minutes, years.


Second is Vakit. It is used to describe a particular moment. It refers to experienced time.


For instance turkish coffee time is defined with vakit.  And that mentality is expressed in turkish proverb of “A cup of turkish coffee commits one to  40 years of friendship.”


I’m more interested in Vakit because life is about experiences.



I believe our relationship with time has become problematic.


The average person spends about 5 hours a day on their smart phones. We lose our sense of time when we scroll in the bottomless timeline of Facebook.


“We live in an attention economy, where products or websites win by getting our time. What starts as a competition for our attention, devolves into a race to the bottom of the brain stem to seduce our deepest instincts. We’re left constantly distracted.”


Tristan Harris


It looks like we no longer get to make the decisions on where we spend our time instead the world dictates what we pay attention to.


And they do this by creating meaningless goals.


The reality is when we buy things we pay them with our time. We convert our time and effort into money and then we convert money into possessions.


And this time is taken away from family and community bonds, social responsibilities, our passions, hobbies, and so on.

Thus, we need to take our time back.

I started to search for a better experience of time.

I saw that Although we live and experience linear lives, clock interfaces are continuous and designed as closed loops. However, time has a beginning and end as we experience it. We start the day when we wake up and we end the day, when we go to bed.

On digital clocks seconds don’t move until one entire second elapses as if life was discrete. And the numbers on the interface don’t communicate with our experiences.

I created product models that embody this concept of continuous time. The first clock is a linear clock which has a clear beginning and end.


In the second one, if we look time in three hour segments rather than twelve hour segments, we become more aware of cyclical nature of time and how quickly it passes.


I researched the elements of time through the lenses of physics, philosophy, neuroscience, chronobiology and psychology. I read a wide variety of books.

And that was followed by many subject matter experts interviews.

“The general subject of taking back the control of our lives from the machine and the system is central to what all social critics of our age write about.”






“The general subject of taking back the control of our lives from the machine and the system is central to what all social critics of our age write about.”






Design visionary John Thackara brought my attention to the idea of “taking back control of our lives from the system”.


And author Dave Bruno questioned me “ why are we always so busy?”


I organized a workshop in order to observe how people experience time where I conducted a “one second experiment”. It tests whether or not people perceive seconds differently and how time warps in different situations.

Participants were asked to push the button on the product, once per second.

Then the device calculated how long each person thought one second was. In this example the person perceived one second when an average of 1.82 second had passed.


We repeated the experiment after running around the room for 3 minutes. And their perception of time changed drastically. This revealed how perception of time is subjective and can therefore be altered.

I began to wonder how can we alter our experiences so that we have a better quality of time, and a better quality of life?

First, we need to reframe time. And then secondly, we need to slow it down.



Product Designer


New York / USA

All works © Adem Önalan 2015

Please do not reproduce without the expressed written consent of Adem Önalan.

This website is designed and created by Adem Önalan.


Core77 Design Awards, 2016

Student Notable, Furniture & Lighting (Project: Ounce)


Core77 Design Awards, 2015

Student Notable, Interaction Design (Project: Ditto)


Core77 Design Awards, 2015

Student Notable, Social Impact (Project: Spinute)


Republic of Turkey Ministry of Economy, 2014

Full Scholarship Recepient for Graduate School


IMMIB Industrial Design Contest 2014, Turkey

Professional-First Prize


TUBITAK Entrepreneurship and Innovation Award, Turkey

First Prize

TUBITAK : The Scientific and Technological Research

Council of Turkey


Asia Awards: The Student of Asia 2013, Japan



Red dot award: concept 2013, Singapore



International Design Excellence Awards  2013, USA



A' Design Award Winner 2013, Italy



IMMIB Industrial Design Contest 2013, Turkey

Student-First Prize


iF Concept Design Award 2012, Germany