MILAN — Maria Sole Ferragamo’s passion for jewelry started when she was only nine years old and her mother gave her a kit to create beaded pieces. “I started making a lot of them and I was selling them at the beach,” said Ferragamo, one of the children of Salvatore Ferragamo’s non-executive chairman Leonardo Ferragamo.
A natural beauty with intense blue eyes and a sophisticated allure, the young jewelry designer — who established the So-le Studio sustainable jewelry brand in London in 2017 — has recently installed its headquarters in an industrial area in Milan. From there, she designs and develops her signature accessories, which she crafts by handpicking leather and metal leftovers that she sources from a range of Italian manufacturing companies. A selection of her creations are part of an installation during Milan Design Week at the Rossana Orlandi Milano gallery.
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An architecture graduate from Milan’s Politecnico University, Maria Sole Ferragamo realized early on that she was not cut out for dedicating herself exclusively to the design phase. “I have always felt this need for using my hands. I love the tactile experience; I adore experimenting with materials,” she said. For this reason, after graduation she followed her passion and moved to London to attend a jewelry design master at Central Saint Martins.
Courtesy of So-le Studio
There she developed the skills to start her jewelry brand, which she launched from a temporary shop in St. John’s Wood in north London, where the label’s unique combination of design sensibility and material experimentation was quickly appreciated. “I started getting so many requests from these sophisticated women, mostly interested about art, that found in my pieces something special and uncommon to exalt also the most minimal outfits.”
If upcycling is a big trend now, when Ferragamo started her business in 2017, it was still somewhat niche. However, for someone who since childhood has always been exposed to both craftsmanship and industrial production, the approach felt natural.
Combining “urban and organic geometries,” as she explained, the designer uses leather leftovers that she cuts, twists and twirls to create earrings, necklaces and bracelets that mimic the shades and the textures of metals.
Expanding her range, Ferragamo recently introduced the use of brass shavings. “I got really fascinated by these piles of brass spiral chips that were sitting abandoned in a factory producing metal components for my jewelry and I asked them if I could use those production scraps to craft new jewelry pieces,” said the designer, telling the story behind the birth of the Trucioli, or “shavings” in English, collection, featuring one-of-a-kind brass earrings coated in gold and hand-painted with fluorescent enamel.
So-le Studio, whose designs are available on the brand’s online store, is about to launch at Browns on Sept. 13. Average prices stand at around 250 euros.