Schiphol is one of the most highly-frequented airports in the world, and about 15 million passengers from every corner of the earth pass through its Lounge 2 every year. This is one of the reasons why Maarten Baas, one of the most renowned Dutch designers, was commissioned to replace such Dutch icons as tulips, clogs and windmills at the Lounge with one of his internationally acclaimed artworks – a clock over three metres high.
Baas launched the first clock in his Real Time series In 2009. As he explains, "Real time is a term that is used in the film industry. It means that the duration of a scene portrays exactly the same time as it took to film it. I play with that concept in my real time clocks by showing videos where the hands of time are literally moved in real time."
The many faceless, blue-overalled employees who keep things clean and in order at the airport day and night provided Baas with the inspiration for his new creation. "The real time Schiphol clock is basically a big box hanging from the ceiling in Lounge 2. For this work I decided on the most archetypical form of a clock, but it has a ladder going up to it and a little door that you wouldn’t even notice at first glance."
Both are there to enable an imaginary worker in blue overalls to climb up and get inside the clock. As the designer explains, "He has a red bucket and a yellow cleaning cloth and he is cleaning up after the hands of time, after which he creates a new minute, every time again". The colours red, yellow and blue – a deliberate choice – are Baas' way of paying homage to the painter Piet Mondriaan and the architect and designer Gerrit Rietveld, the two most renowned Dutch artists of the past century.