Honey Japanese Maple Leaves Zen Alarm Clock, calming alarm clock useful for remembering one's dreams
Steve McIntosh is one of those spiritually driven achievers whom marketers define as part of the “cultural creatives” demographic group. He doesn’t shy away from that label; in fact, he believes that group is on the cultural frontier, making changes in their own lives that will influence our future.
It’s a movement that is going beyond materialism, but still expresses itself with certain material goods. “I want to be part of that culture. I want to express an aesthetic that would capture the mood of the time like the Tiffany lamp expressed the Art Nouveau culture prior to World War I,” McIntosh said.
The former investment banker and lawyer headed the Celestial Seasonings tea company, where, he said, he saw “how a brand can affect American culture.”
In the mid- 1990s, McIntosh was ready to set out on his own. “I wanted to create a line of consumer electronics that would use natural sounds, acoustic sounds that were housed in wood cases rather than plastic,” he said.
In 1996 in Boulder, Colo., he began his company Now & Zen, making the Zen Alarm Clock, (shown below, $119.95) a clock that emits chimes at intervals, and more recently introducing the Tibetan Phone Bell (shown above, $119) on the same principle — that sound should be beautiful and gentle.
His products “exemplify an aesthetic that combines elements of Zen, sacred geometry, classical Greece,” he said.
The clock wakes the sleeper up with an initial chime, followed in 3 1/2 minutes by another, then in smaller intervals until it sounds each four seconds. That interval allows the sleeper to conclude a dream before waking, according to Now & Zen literature.
“Instead of jerking, you get this buffer between sleeping and waking that gives you your consciousness,” he said.
The Tibetan Phone Bell, which features a brass bowl from Asia, “replaces the artificial sound of a phone ringing,” McIntosh said. “Those electric sounds cause stress.”
The sounds of both products are based on an esoteric tradition that dictates what frequencies are most soothing to humans, he said.
Hardcore materialists may laugh, he said, but many people find the Zen Alarm Clock and the Phone Bell pleasant.
“You don’t have to be a Buddhist to appreciate an esthetically beautiful phone,” he said.
Zen Alarm Clock in Maple Finish, Japanese Leaves Dial Face, harmony in design
Now & Zen products are available at the Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley; Planet Weavers Treasure, Zen Center Book Shop, Walden’s and the Tibet Shop in San Francisco; Body Wise and Siamese Dream in San Rafael; and Milk & Honey in Sebastopol or online at www.now-zen.com.
Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle, March 2004 by Laura Thomas
The Zen Clock Showroom
Now & Zen – The Zen Alarm Clock Store
1638 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302