A detail is a minute circumstance. Something that happens on a small scale, and requires a close look to be perceived. It may be an element that escapes us at first glance, but without which everything would be different. The detail is that invisible gesture that happens before our eyes. But also that out-of-place element, which gives meaning to all the others. The detail cannot be seen, yet is there. And its existence makes beauty possible.

In the project “A Matter of Details”, Claudia Zalla—in close collaboration with Studio Testo—interprets the ceramic material of the Caesar Key_Mood and Anima Futura collections. The photographic investigation offers a new look at the products and brings to light unexpected aspects, in search of that detail that determines their beauty.

Claudia Zalla is a photographer who lives and works in Milan. She works prevalently for fashion and design, collaborating with companies and magazines. Together with her work, she develops personal research focused on the urban landscape, pursuing a narrative of everyday life.

In the details of the Key Mood and Anima Futura collections, an invitation to get closer is discernible. To look macroscopically in order to catch a glimpse of something new. In the workmanship of the finishes, one glimpses traits of the natural world from which they are inspired. And so it is that the surface of the sand (evoked by Key_Mood’s Craft finish) also brings with it the sea.

One coarser, the other a pinnacle of purity, the collections dialogue on different yet communicating design levels. From a distance, both are just an atmosphere. But, on closer inspection, each nuance evokes a new elsewhere.

MICHELE COLÒ: The project “A Matter of Details” is based on subtle, seemingly unnoticeable features: yet a common saying goes that beauty is in the details. So what can you say about the relationship between details and beauty in a photographic project?

CLAUDIA ZALLA: From the point of view of my approach to photography, taking care of every aspect in all its details is essential for the quality of the work. In the details lies the hallmark of a shot: this project was conducted with meticulous care, from the preparatory phase to the shots and post-production. Even the choice of objects that accompany the ceramic product—few but significant—is an aspect for which details weigh heavily. As far as I have been able to see, the impression is that even in a porcelain stoneware product, it is the details—from research and design to production technologies—that determine much of the added value on a technical and aesthetic level.

MC: Speaking of ceramics, what are the aspects that most struck your attention?

CZ: Certainly the great attention placed on the materiality and veracity of the products, sought at the product design level and supported by production technologies. Speaking of products, Anima Futura impressed the whole team with its high degree of realism: the aesthetic proposals were an inspiration for the development of the project. Of Key_Mood, we found interesting the proposal on finishes, an aspect that multiplies the application possibilities, from flooring to interesting three-dimensional decorative proposals for wall cladding. For example, the Stripes finish inspired a shot with the combination of a pleated fabric that wraps around the product, in an ensemble that aims to give a sensation of lawfulness. In general, getting to know the stoneware production process was stimulating from several points of view: the material’s state transitions, the materiality of raw products, and the value given to waste that is fed back into the process.

MC: The apparent challenge of the work you have done is to find uniqueness in an industrial object, which is therefore by definition standardised and reproducible. What is the artistic value of an industrial product like porcelain stoneware?

CZ: The product is industrial, but the research behind it is certainly unique. Each product offers various cues, and it was stimulating to discover and develop them through the art direction work in different ways, sometimes more didactic, sometimes more conceptual.

MC: The project shots are varied in terms of light. Which aspects guided the team’s choices?

CZ: In Key_Mood, the need to make the material be perceived required two or three lights, which were enveloping and diffuse, but also cutting; the opaque and material aspect of the product is thus emphasised. Some shots of Anima Futura, on the other hand, are sharper and more contrasted, for example, the one on Unique Black, which is almost reminiscent of a camera obscura. We also worked a lot on reflective surfaces and materials such as glass, which create interesting reflections.

MC: In the shots, the product appears in very varied forms: what is the reason for this choice?

CZ: It was an important aspect on the compositional level; pieces in the shape of a trapezoid, triangle or even a very elongated rectangle in the form of a lath helped to achieve more animated and slender shoots.