When we trace back the origins of the hourglass, we can’t find conclusive evidence of its existence before the 14th century. Now 700 years later, we’re familiar with seeing sand inside hourglasses, but over the centuries, they’ve also been filled with powdered marble and crushed eggshells. They first found importance aboard ships as aids in measuring distances traveled—an improvement over millennia-old clepsydras, or water clocks. The water clocks could be compromised more easily, even by the condensation produced on humid days. On land, however, use of the hourglass was often more symbolic than functional. While the mechanical clock (invented around the same time) and its intricate inner mechanisms prompted comparison to the movements of the heavenly spheres, the hourglass measured a set period. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Three Buy Now Related Stories Design Interiors Issue 48 At Work With: Studio Utte A visit to the small, sophisticated Milanese studio of Patrizio Gola & Guglielmo Giagnotti. Design Issue 48 Off to Sea with Cyrill Gutsch Meet the self-appointed design ambassador for the oceans. Design Partnerships Issue 48 Delayed Gratification In partnership with Fritz Hansen, Kinfolk unearths the long history of a new classic. Design Fashion Issue 47 Hot Desk The many faces of a multifunctional workstation. Design Inside Looking Out A rewilding of interior design in the heart of Milan. Design Issue 44 An Unmovable Feast A place setting stitched for every season.