They say time waits for no man or woman. Who “they” are is one of life’s bigger questions, and one to ponder another day. Back in 2009, Belgian horology buffs Raf Maes and Anton Janssens founded KOMONO, a watch brand that’s more than a watch brand; KOMONO is a community of dreamers and designers dedicated to perfectly timed accessories, and rooted in the Belgian tradition of fierce dedication to quality and craft.
KOMONO’s latest project has seen them pair up with 10 creatives to incorporate one of the brand’s most beloved timepieces into their practice. The Signature Collection sees the artists working with KOMONO’s Signature series— an elegant and stylish assemblage of black leather and silver metal — to conjure up a selection of captivating visual narratives around those ever-important concepts of identity and time.
Showcasing a wide array of designers, photographers, illustrators, and fine artists, KOMONO’s commissions have unlocked the creative properties of the thing that controls us all – time. Here we take a closer look at a quartet of our favourites.
Belgian fine artist Louise runs a studio in Antwerp, the home of KOMONO. Which is pretty handy. For this project, she honed in on her inherent interest in the spaces where the real meets the unreal — citing films like Steven Spielberg’s A.I. and 2009’s otherworldly blockbuster Avatar as prime examples — whilst never constraining herself to one idea, or mode of making.
“I started with a concept, an idea, but realised quickly it gave me less options and soon I got stuck,” Louise says. "So I let go of it and started shooting and creating freely, no idea what the outcome would be.”
The result is a set of multi-layered photographic experiments, which fuse man, or in this case woman, with machine, creating images that are hypnotic, unusual, and ever so slightly disconcerting.
Kim Jakobsen To and Hamish Wirgman
Kim Jakobsen To is a photographer. Hamish Wirgman is a stylist. Together they have decided to create a set of images which interrogate the notion of the ‘wrong time’. “We both love historical costumes, and wanted to create this sort of 70’s hustler vibe, but in an English forest, in 2018. A bit of a mix-up. Its part humor, part fascination for the male, and part exploration,” is how they explain their project.
Watch-clad lads lounge around in a manner that’s both totally timeless, and out of time. Which you sense is exactly what Kim and Hamish were after.
Debby Woo’s work hums with a kind of intimacy. The Taiwanese-born illustrator uses her drawings to offer the viewer a glimpse into a youthful female world, and for the Signature Collection, she’s decided to freeze time, showing us a modern, and feminine, interpretation of the ukiyo-e school of drawing, based on the woodcut prints that were all the rage in Japan in the 17th century.
Debby says “My signature is about enjoying the time spent together and enjoying the moment,” and with that in mind, she’s presented “a microscope, a test tube, and a measuring cup on the table, meaning that I’m surrounded by the people and things I love.”
“I love how painting and drawing make the passage of time seem secondary,” says American illustrator Amber Vittoria. The New-Yorker definitely seems to make the most of the time she has, flitting between working digitally and by hand, producing a body of work that includes both sweeping surfaces of colour and shape, and irregular manual lines.
When approached by KOMONO to take part in the Signature Collection, she sat and thought about how the strangest thing about time is that there simply isn’t enough of it, and that one strategy for combating this would be to own, wear, and use several watches.
While this might not play out in reality, it has produced a bold, bright, and beautiful image that’s just as colourful and creative as anything else Amber — who we here at It’s Nice That are huge fans of — has produced in the past. Now, if only she could help us stop time altogether…
The Komono Signature Collection is available now. Additional reporting by Siska Lyssens.