The Solari Cifra 3 clock and Gino Valle’s philanthropic vision

Gino Valle, Solari Cifra 3, orologio da scrivania, 1966 - desk clock

The Cifra 3 digital desk clock is said to have been born out of the “philanthropic” vision of designer Gino Valle (Udine, 1923-2003).

Although he considered himself first and foremost an architect, Valle was an eager industrial designer: he collaborated with major companies such as Zanussi, creating washing machines and refrigerators that would go down in history thanks to his ability to endow them with a distinct identity, making them recognizable. It was a breakthrough in consumer appliances at the time.

The Cifra 3 clock became a bestseller soon after its launch in 1966. Measuring 18-by-9.5 centimeters, it featured two rolls of thin plastic flaps: one with forty-eight elements for the hours, and one with one hundred and twenty for the minutes. The rotating flap system was the fruit of the collaboration between Valle and a brilliant Belgian inventor, John Myer.

Valle’s philanthropy was based on the concept that designers should focus exclusively on users’ needs. The Cifra 3– as well as countless split-flap displays in railway stations and airports around the world – went on to prove how wise his insight was.

Photos: Rita Valente

Collector: Davide Guglielmino

February 24, 2015