Sundial Home Accessories from Italy

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Last updated: April 19, 2023

Nearly a decade ago, scientists discovered a sundial in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. This was a burial place for rulers from Egypt’s New Kingdom period (1550 to 1070 BC), according to Live Science. The sundial may be the world’s oldest of ancient Egyptian sundials. It was discovered outside a tomb, on a floor, in a workman’s hut.

This particular sundial is about 1000 years older than what was understood at a time when such a device would be used. Past discoveries dated sundial use to the Greco-Roman period, from 332BC to 395 AD. We do know that sundials were used by Egyptians, the Greeks, and Romans.

Table of Contents

  1. LATO x LATO: Contemporary Home Accessories
  2. Meridiane Collection: 4 Contemporary, Unusual Sundials
  3. LATO x LATO: Design Philosophy
  4. Product Price
  5. Technical Specifications
  6. LATO x LATO: The Company
  7. The Image Gallery

Theodosius of Bithynia (160 BC – 100 BC), a mathematician and astronomer, appears to have invented the universal sundial, for use from any location worldwide. Romans adopted Greek sundials, and appear to be the first to use them to divide each day into 12-hour increments. Why? To better track meetings and time. Go figure. You’d think the Romans ran an empire or something. ;). That’s smart efficiency. Rome’s first recorded sundial use was in 293 BC, according to Gaius Plinius Secundus, Roman author, and natural philosopher.

Sundials are magical, true-to-form ancient artifacts, that record the passage of time with shadows. Shadows are cast by a tall, central element (obelisk, gnomon) on vertical or horizontal surfaces.

LATO x LATO: Contemporary Home Accessories

Meridiane Collection: 4 Contemporary, Unusual Sundials

LATO x LATO has released an exquisite contemporary collection of home decor accessories called “The Meridiane”. The Meridiane is a collection of four sundial design accessories that represent four moments in a 24 hour day.

The Meridiane collection is a design inspiration for many sundials which decorate the façades of numerous Italian palaces and villas. The collection is a new addition to LATO x LATO’s catalog which celebrates classical and renaissance architecture from Italy.

Each Meridiane design piece represents a specific hour or time of day on a sundial, emulating dawn to dusk rotation. There is a hidden bonus from a Latin motto which the company has borrowed from a sundial on the streets of Rome. The motto?

"Horas non numero nisi serenas. “

"I don’t count the hours unless they’re pleasant ones.”

LATO x LATO: Design Philosophy

In the Meridiane Collection, shadows do not project but remain as an enduring, rather ingrained part of the white ceramic surface design of each sundial home accessory. Volume elements like the central obelisk and geometric patterns are borrowed from architectural references, delivering uniqueness, quality, and inspired attention.

Shadows are the central character in this play. Either a protagonist or antagonist, the shadows act as decorative elements.

LATO x LATO aims to tell stories through architectural reference points and linear, contemporary volumes. The high-quality craftsmanship is a hidden feature, demonstrating the handiwork and skills of the finest Italian master artisans. Each innovative product is shaped by the hands of these artisans, with attention to detail, and amazing manufacturing sensibilities.

These masterful artisans are specialized to work with specific materials, making every element of an object, one piece at a time. Speed is not of the essence. Every step is a hand-made process, with obsessive attention to quality craftsmanship. At LATO x LATO, mass production is a thing of the past!

The Meridiane Collection is based on white, tactile ceramic materials which draw on classic Italian traditions of glazed majolica pottery to transform home accessories into a shadow factory of illusions. The vertical elements (obelisk, gnomons) are made of precious metals which help project the illusion of decorative shadows on each product.

LATO x LATO, White Background, the bowl 12:30, Platino-Platinum, White Bowl
Source: Barbara Musso, Novità Italia

The Bowl 12:30 

Made in white ceramic, the bowl includes a central obelisk. In real monuments, an obelisk is tall, generally four-sided, and has narrow tapering that emulates a pyramid-style shape. This design reference draws from ancient Roman and earlier Egyptian inspiration.

Within the bowl, the obelisk casts a shadow on the inner curvature of the bowl to create an illusion. Like all other LATO x LATO design efforts, this simplified accessory becomes an elegant but unusual design.

The bowl comes with three obelisk options: RAME for Copper, Oro for Gold, or Platino for Platinum.

The Bowl can serve as beautiful ornamentation to any corner setting in your home.

LATO x LATO, White Background, Rectangular Tray 19:00, Rame-Copper Sundial - Top View
Source: Barbara Musso, Novità Italia

The Rectangular Tray 19:00

The rectangular tray is designed as an Italian piazza, with wide-open space and a central vertical structure. Depending on your interpretation, this central element can be either a sculpture, fountain, or obelisk from ancient Roman or recent Italian periods.

The Piazza is a frequent observation for the traveler or resident in the most familiar, famous town squares within Italy. The vertical element is contemporary, and the false shadow provides contrast on the ceramic white surface for authenticity and individuality.

The rectangular tray comes with three obelisk options: Rame for Copper, Oro for Gold, or Platino for Platinum.

The rectangular tray can serve as a very unique ‘cutting board’ tray. Hors d’Oeuvres or Cheese anyone?

LATO x LATO, White background, The Box 22:15, Platino - Platinum Sundial
Source: Barbara Musso, Novità Italia

The Box 22:15

The Box is a beautifully inspirational re-creation of the Casa Malaparte in Capri, Italy.

In this design inspiration, the curved element appears to emulate the Roman Colosseum, casting a shadow on the inner curved element on top of The Box.

Entry arches on The Box is also an inspired recreation of the Roman Colosseum’s entry gates. Did you know the real Colosseum has 76 arched entrance gates for the general public and 4 un-numbered gates used for grand entrances? Now you know. 🙂

The box, with lid, is the container where you reach for candy after dinner, or storage of valuable jewelry on your night table before you retire to sleep.

LATO x LATO, White Background, the round tray 06:45, rame-copper sundial, top view
Source: Barbara Musso, Novità Italia

The Round Tray 6:45

The round tray features a series of curved arches, acting as entry gates. These arches revive the porticoes which surround many Italian piazzas found in Venice, Bologna, Mantua, Turin among many other cities.

The tall, central element (obelisk) reminds us of ancient monolithic monuments from ancient Imperial Rome. The created shadow is a perfect contrast that plays into the piece as a suitable decoration.

Like the other contemporary home accessories, the obelisk is available in rame for copper, oro for gold, or platino for platinum to satisfy individualized tastes.

It is useful for serving guests with cups, glasses, alcoholic drinks, or simply as a design accessory on the coffee table next to stacked books or other objects from the Meridiane collection.

The geometry and rich detailing for this collection allows these products to work with any home decor and interior. The Meridiane collection is perfect for contemporary or classic interiors.

For home decor lovers of Italian-made products from furniture to accessories, this collection is originally and authentically Italian. Every single product is handmade by Italian artisans.

Product Price

THE BOWLØ 12-1/2” H 6-3/4”
1.5 KG
(approx. $416 USD at publishing)
THE RECTANGULAR TRAYL 16-1/2” D 8-1/2” H 5-3/4” 
1.4 KG
(approx. $333 USD at publishing)
THE BOXL 8” D 5-1/4” H 3-1/2” 
0.9 KG
(approx. $190 USD at publishing)
THE ROUND TRAY (6:45)Ø 11-3/4” H 6-1/2”
1.2 KG
(approx. $357 USD at publishing)

If you are considering a purchase from the Meridian Collection of sundial home accessories, or the many other unusual yet distinctive products from LATO x LATO, please visit their website.

Technical Specifications

DESIGNERSVirginia Valentini + Francesco Breganze De Capnist
MATERIALGlazed Ceramic
CENTRAL ELEMENT, OBELISK FINISHGold, Platinum, Copper OR Oro, Platino, Rame
SOURCEV2comNewswire, NovitaItalia

LATO x LATO: The Company

The LATOxLATO design workshop was founded a mere three years ago in 2018. LATO x LATO is located in Vicenza, a city in the Veneto region of Italy. All of the company’s products are made by masterful Italian artisans.


Virginia Valentini and Francesco Breganze de Capnist co-founded LATO x LATO. As a married couple, they are partners in life and work and possess a common bond that is curious and creative.

Both designers are Italians by birth. Francesco is from Vicenza while Bologna is called home for Virginia. They both graduated from Milan Polytechnica and ended up working in the United States.

They opened Spazio Primario in New York, in 2016, working on many projects. The project included a retail space in Brooklyn, a Coney Island restaurant, and several Upper East Side private residences.

Both designers continue to work on projects in the United States while managing LATO x LATO with the creation of unusual, unorthodox Italian-made designs. Their experience built on work in the United States and combined with Italian artisanship, art, and architecture have helped them create beautiful home accessories and objects that scream contemporary luxury.

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