In a 1972 interview, the designers Ray and Charles Eames were asked, “Does design imply the idea of products that are necessarily useful?” To that, they answered, “Yes, even though the use might be very subtle.” Inspired by this insight, I wondered how I could transform the paper calendar—now rendered useless by the digital calendars on our phones and computers—into a useful object. I focused on the paper calendar’s materiality, its simplicity, its physical representation of passing time, and its connection to perpetual or daily interaction (routines, habits, and rituals). Each of these considerations led me to the obvious yet forgotten act of flipping the page.
Calendar—a spiral-bound “calendar” with only two blank pages—isolates the action of flipping a page. The interaction shifts the responsibility from object to human and magnifies its emotional effect. Stripped of numerical or textual information, it signifies the passing of time as a choice—one may flip the page once every year, month, day, hour, minute, or even second, enacting a behavioral demarcation of a personal past, present, and future. Absent a denoted notion of time, Calendar becomes a connoted means of starting anew.
Today, the fast and ever-changing influx of technology is challenging our relationship with so many physical, analog objects. Our perception of space and time is now largely influenced by the gesture of the endless scroll on the sleek interface of a screen or trackpad. The digital environment has become a familiar site of normal, habitual activity, but this apparent normalcy mechanizes our own human forms of behavior in dangerous ways. Deliberately interacting with objects is more than useful; it is a way to reclaim agency in our space, time, and experiences.