I recently spent a couple weeks in Japan, which is an amazing place for designers. There were thoughtful details everywhere I went. One example is the custom alarm clock in my Tokyo hotel (the Courtyard Marriott in Ginza).

This alarm is beautifully simple. There are only three buttons: decrement alarm time, increment alarm time, and on/off. The bottom row of buttons control the lighting of the room. (The white cable is from my iPhone charger, not part of the alarm).

I really like how the alarm time isn’t hidden behind a mode. The alarm time appears beside the current time in orange LED whenever the alarm is on. It doesn’t replace the current time, so you don’t have to track which mode is active. The two times look different from each other. The orange letters also give confirmation that the alarm is in fact set (which can be a concern when you rely on an unfamiliar device to wake you up).

When the increment/decrement buttons are held, the current time disappears to focus on the alarm time.

One of my favorite details is something you can’t see in these photos. The alarm is a solid brick of metal. It’s black and heavy, with no branding or seams visible anywhere. Solid, unobtrusive, and perfectly optimized—that’s a good design.