The Parting Gift
There’s an entirely unnecessary, but absolutely heartwarming, tradition at Pentagram for partners exiting the group. A party is held at the group’s international meeting following the partner’s departure where a parting gift is presented. It’s usually something created for the partner (though one got a Lartigue photograph) and often by a close friend and artist.
I think this may have started with founder Alan Fletcher for whom Milton Glaser drew a beautiful ‘quartered’ portrait that could be mixed and matched. Colin Forbes was presented with a painting of, I think, Cleveland Bay horses and for Lowell Williams Seymour Chwast made a tin sculpture of a car. These sound rather dull and impersonal but the opposite is true; they are deeply tied to the partner’s ‘interests’ (read ‘obsession’) and usually done by someone the partner thinks of as a close friend and an admired artist. Moist eyes often accompany the presentation and the collected artifacts would make an interesting Pentagram Paper.
My departure was marked the way I normally mark events in my life; with a timepiece.
Years earlier I had made a presentation to the partnership about my watches (see “Some Watches” in the essays section of the website) so my obsession was well known, and one of the partners and close friend, Daniel Weil, was obsessed with clocks in his own way; he likes to make them.
Daniel and I are precisely the same age and regard time for our own reasons:
I tend to mark moments in what I see as a linear time scale (often with a watch purchase) and have a thing for numbers (dates, time, distance, age, etc.). For me time is graphic, another measurable dimension and one with both an English and Metric numbering system.
Daniel likes the mechanics of time and its relationship to the other 3 dimensions. Movement, he once said, is time made manifest.
We had worked together on a New York Swatch store and our timelines intersected once again as I left Pentagram.
Daniel designed, and had fabricated, a remarkable coda to my 19 years at Pentagram; a bespoke ‘Clock for an Architect’ that deconstructs, in the way only Daniel can, time and mechanics and emotion.
His sketches and images of the clock reveal not only his own obsession with the mechanics of time, but his method of working and reworking ideas. It is, as one partner put it, the best of all the gifts to date, and for the first time in this context an incredibly personal gesture from one partner to another.