Solus and Refin open Laboratory space to explore "very small worlds"

Promotion: an installation space designed by London studio Holloway Li to explore microscopic photography has opened to coincide with Clerkenwell Design Week.

The UK’s largest independent supplier of independent ceramics, Solus Ceramics, is hosting the installation at its showroom in Clerkenwell in collaboration with Italian porcelain stoneware manufacturer Refin.

Titled Laboratory, the brand said the concept is about “very small worlds” and uses special cameras inviting visitors to gaze at wax, metal and fresco under intense magnifications.

Magnification lensMagnification lens
The Laboratory is a collaboration between Solus, Refin and Holloway Li

Solus and Refin have commissioned Holloway Li, led by creative director Alex Holloway and managing director Na Li, to create the installation.

It is the latest in a series of installations at Solus’ London showroom, where the brand brings together a manufacturer and a design studio.

Last year Solus worked with architect Simon Astridge to create the  Ceramaphone, a unique instrument whose keys are made of porcelain tiles tuned to the pentatonic scale. It was featured at the Dezeen Awards 2023 party.

Two people looking at a microscopeTwo people looking at a microscope
The concept is about “very small worlds” using special cameras

The three studios said they all shared a fascination with the role of photography in progressive design.

“We were invited by Solus to collaborate with Refin on this exciting ‘live’ artwork,” Holloway said.

“Working with our collaborator software developer, Will Muir Llia, we designed three live experiments which reveal a wondrous hidden world on the surface of the raw materials used by Refin,” he added.

Person looking at imagePerson looking at image
Visitors were invited to become “microcosmonauts”

The idea is to allow visitors to become “microcosmonauts”, said Solus.

Visitors will move in a sequence where they will initially familiarise themselves with the equipment and concept, after which they’ll explore different examples and finish by creating their own microcosmic images.

“In an era saturated with digital post-production, we set ourselves a strict rule to generate these beautiful images purely via analogue methods, appearing at once microscopic and cosmic,” Holloway said.

“For example, what appears at first glance to be a computer-generated image of a retreating ice cap turns out to be a ‘live’ physical recording of melting wax under intense magnification,” he added.

Vintage camera equipmentVintage camera equipment
The installation was about exploring “beautiful images purely via analogue methods”

The installation will be open throughout May, June and July, including a special series of events during Clerkenwell Design Week. These will include workshops, tastings and talks on photography as an agent of change and experimental design for the future.

Architects AHMM will be hosting a talk entitled Delivering Net Zero in Use Toolkit.

More information about the Laboratory during Clerkenwell Design Week is available here. To find out about Solus, visit the company’s website.

The photography is by Gunner Gu and Luis Kramer.

Laboratory is located at 80 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1M 5RJ and will be open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm until July 2024. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

Partnership content

This article was written by Dezeen for Solus as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.

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