Design Geekery Software

Creating a Solari Flip Clock for Free (kind of)

As a graphic designer living in New York on a limited budget, I am constantly looking into catalogs and magazines, and drooling over the well designed objects I might someday afford. The Aalto vases, the Eames lounge chairs with ottomans, the Akari Noguchi paper lamps — all these items ignite my interest, but their prices bring up every designers biggest dilemma, design or Dinner?

Solari Cifra 3 table clock

One such object is the famous Solari Cifra 3 table clock. Manufactured by Solari in 1965 and designed by the flip (or flap depending on your preference) clock master Gino Valle, the Cifra 3 is often referred to as the “museum clock” as it was sold exclusively by MoMA. Gino Valle was an accomplished designer in his own right designing numerous flip clocks for Airport terminals, most notably his Monumental flip clock at TWA terminal.

Unfortunately, the Cifra 3’s, while still produced, sell for well over $200, which is a little out of my budget. Solution — make your mac (or PC) into a Solari Cifra 3 clock for free in approximately 2 minutes with an elegant little screen saver from

Fliqlo Screen Saver

The screensaver turns your idling computer into a wonderful timepiece. The only thing this clock doesn’t do, which is a real pity, is make a flapping sound as time passes. The Cifra 3 makes a small “flap” with each passing minute and a large “chunk” every hour as every flipper turns over simultaneously to display the new hour… although that might drive some folks crazy.

For more design hacks visit Twart Design’s Design w/o Reach for some low tech answers to high design.

Lezioni Design biography – translated
Artnet Biography of Gino Valle
Solari’s Story
Design Addict’s profile on the Cifra 3

One reply on “Creating a Solari Flip Clock for Free (kind of)”

This is indeed a nice screensaver but unfortunately the creator did not look carefully enough.

Gino Valle, who originally designed the Clock studied Architecture at Harvard in the 50’s and returned to Italy where Joe Columbo and Ettore Sotsass and others were inventing some really delightful objects and setting a tone for what came to be called Italian Modern… a submovement within the Modern Movement which was full of delight and happiness, and joy and had all kinds of great colors and boldness. It remains one of the great thrusts of Modern.

Now Gino made the Cifra 3 clock as a beautiful object of art, and if you look at it you will notice that the hours are bold and the minutes are standard. That added something to the hip look of it.

Unfortunaely the designer here missed that. To keep in keeping with the Italian Movement, he should have given us the power of color choice.

It is a fine work otherwise, but could be so much more fun.

Look at the skin that I designed for the HP43 emulator for the iPod touch/iPhone.
AL Software…

There must be some joy!


Comments are closed.