CITIZEN “time is TIME” : 2016 Milan Design Week’s most immersive experience


This year at Milan Design Week, Citizen collaborated with Tsuyoshi Tane from DGT Architects to create an immersive installation that explores the nature of time. Ayesha Sabri presents details from her visit and the inspiration behind the installation.

Every year, the Tortona Design District, features one event in particular that exceeds everyone’s imagination. This year, it was Citizen’s “time is TIME” installation. A spectacular sensory experience for the visitors for Milan Design Week.

The installation attempts to explore the notion of “time” from a variety of angles – the universe, earth, living creatures, mankind, life and society. It exhibits various forms of “time”, that demonstrate dynamics through mechanical and electronic movements. Forty years since the development of citizen’s Eco-drive technology, which was used to create the world’s first light-powered analogue watch, it has evolved to become one of the core technologies for CITIZEN. The light and time installation symbolises the significance of this technology.

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The site for the exhibit is Superstudio Più on Via Tortona. The simplicity of the title does not do justice to the exhibit and this is apparent as soon as one walks into the exhibition space. The space is transformed into a visually charged treat; components of clockwork plates hanging midair, illuminated against the dark backdrop lending one to feel transported to another dimension as they walk through the geometric jungle of suspended pieces resembling drops of metallic rain.

We wanted to think deeply about the question “what is time?” Time contains many individual moments, including one we call “Now.” It is impossible to make time stand still.

People and objects grow old, but time is always new. It always keeps moving. Keeps changing. It comes, and it goes. This ever changing flow of individual moments is what we know as “TIME.”

Tsuyoshi Tane of DGT Architects further explains his aspirations with the exhibition design:

“time is TIME” is an experimental and experiential installation exploring the idea of time. By using approximately 120,000 main plates, we have created two primary spaces: SPACE A and SPACE B. In these spaces, visitors will have a completely new time experience. In this installation, they will experience time as an absolute and everything else as relative. 15 years have passed since we have entered the 21st Century, and in this time every global event directly impacts our everyday life. Our society has become much smarter and fast-paced as a result of globalization. In this milieu, we have a chance to pursue the true meanings of both the individual moments we experience as “time” and “TIME,” the collective passage of these moments. In the “time” that is “Now,” all of us on Earth are equally connected to the same “TIME.”

“time is TIME” is our challenge in the 21st century to introduce a new vision of “TIME.”

CITIZEN time is Time, Milan Design Week

The center of Space A contains a table with 60 mechanical moving parts that constantly tick; turning and vibrating to express the continual and perpetual flow of time.

CITIZEN time is Time, Milan Design Week

CITIZEN time is Time, Milan Design Week

Space B contains separate display cases in a circular space where the electronic movements express different ideas of time that exist in the span of one second.

CITIZEN time is Time, Milan Design Week

CITIZEN time is Time, Milan Design Week

Between the transitioning spaces from space A to B, you encounter 18 watches on display that demonstrate the essence of CITIZEN’s designs – timepieces with groundbreaking technologies that defined new values for watches in each era.

The creation would be less than magical without the technical designer, Yutaka Endo, along with the sound artist Evala, who produced the perfect environment to be the stage for an aesthetically engaging and contemplative experience for the installation.

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