For Maria Sole Ferragamo, partnerships that support for her visionary perspective on jewelry and accessories are the backbone of her work, and that is clear in the design for the first boutique for her namesake brand, So-Le Studio.
The So-Le Studio flagship store in Milan at Via Sant’Andrea 10 is located not only in a standout part of the Italian city known for history and fashion, but it also highlights the architectural nature of her jewelry, which Ferragamo considers wearable sculpture.
It’s more than just words—the rings, earrings, and necklaces Ferragamo designs from leather scraps and brass shavings take art and sustainability to a thoughtful new place within the jewelry industry. So, it makes sense that her boutique would be just as dramatic in terms of its ability to transform simple materials into unexpected shapes.
So-Le Studio uses leftover materials from Milan’s workshops—including her family’s venerable shoes—to create jewelry that looks like metal but is actually leather. Because she works in such a transformative way, Ferragamo says she wanted her inaugural retail location to respect and reflect that.
To create the boutique, Ferragamo worked with Fondamenta, a Milan-based architecture firm founded by her “dear friends,” Francesca Gagliardi and Federico Rossi. Knowing they understood her vision, Ferragamo says they experimented with materials that would reflect her design principles: mobility, lightness, playfulness, and a love for organic shapes.
“It is a friendship enhanced by many moments together and shared processes. What’s always kept us so close our principles—although they work at the scale of a building, and I work at the scale of jewelry,” Ferragamo says. “I knew I had to ask them to design it.”
The resulting space looks like a museum crossed with a luxurious lounge and a fantastical playground. To create its displays, Fondamenta uses wooden skeletons to create shapes, which are then draped with fabric. As a result, there are no sharp corners anywhere in the boutique, setting up each piece of jewelry like a pearl being revealed inside an oyster.
Backlights and mirrors make it appear as if the jewelry is floating as well. Nearby panels create movement, rotating to the boutique’s display needs based on new products or collections, Ferragamo says. There’s also a screen on one of these panels, which shows video art pieces or shots of Ferragamo at work.
“I wanted it to be somewhere everybody felt well and welcome,” Ferragamo says. “There’s a dynamism, lightness, and comfort to my jewelry, and the boutique embraced that.… Everything inside looks solid and heavy, but they are light structures covered in fabric, playing on that illusion as well.”
Ferragamo says one of her inspirations in her brief on what she wanted her store to be came from the thoughtfulness and intentionality of the Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima, Japan, where she traveled to see its famous Monet display. Ferragamo says she wondered why she should travel so far to see an all-white room surrounding the artist’s masterwork, the Water Lilies series. Then, when she saw it, she understood.
“The whole room, the way it was designed—it gave me a completely different experience of the artwork,” Ferragamo says. “It was powerful and emotional, and I wanted that same experience in the store.”
Ferragamo founded So-Le Studio in 2019 in London, and she serves as the creative director and founder. Its creative headquarters are in Milan, Ferragamo says, and its production takes place in Tuscany. Its mission is to take discarded materials, including leather and brass shavings, and use them as the starting point for new artist creations.
Top: In late 2022 Maria Sole Ferragamo opened her first boutique to display her sustainability created jewelry and accessories, which are made with pieces of leather and other materials that otherwise would be cast off (photos courtesy of So-Le Studio/photographer Mikael Olsson).@jckmagazine
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