The colourful, Italianate-styled building, at the corner of Parliament Street and Essex Quay, is one of Dublin’s most unusual and best-loved buildings.
Known as Sunlight Chambers it was built in 1901 as the headquarters for the Irish operations of Lever Brothers, the English soap and detergent manufacturers.
“Sunlight” was the company’s brand name for their soap product, hence the name of their Irish headquarters.
Conrad Dressler, a sculptor and potter of some reputation at that time, was engaged to design and craft the remarkable series of four roundels and twelve panels around the three faces of the building. The glazed ceramic friezes were made in Dressler’s own pottery works in Buckinghamshire.
The friezes or panels depict the toils of man, the extraction of raw materials to manufacture soap, the bargaining of merchants buying oils and scents and women scrubbing and washing clothes.