Since 2016, Milan-based SO-LE Studio has used material offcuts to create intriguing, avant-garde jewellery that balances architectural and organic forms. So when it came time to imagine her first showroom, SO-LE founder Maria Sole Ferragamo (the granddaughter of Salvatore Ferragamo) sought collaborators who could successfully translate her wearable art into the realm of large-scale sculpture.
Her close friends Francesca Gagliardi and Federico Rossi of Milan architecture office Fondamenta proved to be the perfect candidates. Indeed, the duo’s ethereal design for SO-LE Studio’s boutique on via Sant’Andrea resembles not so much a store as a gallery from another planet. Sinuous displays twist and swoop, gracefully emulating the way that a bracelet dangles from a wrist. Backlit panelling amps up the otherworldly atmosphere, creating the illusion that the jewelry on offer is floating in place.
To form each of the shop’s signature shelves and partitions, Fondamenta commissioned a series of curvaceous wood frames from the carpentry program at Contrada degli Artigiani, an educational facility in Como operated by the foster organization Cometa to provide youth with trade mentoring and apprenticeship opportunities.
These frames were then draped with textiles — an especially fitting choice of material given SO-LE’s ongoing focus on upcycling clothing scraps sourced from Milan’s workshops. Indeed, while Ferragamo’s jewellery designs may initially appear heavy and stone-like, they are primarily formed from lightweight leather offcuts. (Many also incorporate salvaged brass shavings, while the Trucioli collection of spinal cord-like earrings, necklaces, and bracelets is formed entirely from gold-plated brass and enamel.)
Along with reflecting Ferragamo’s transformational design process, the showroom’s warped shells also speak to the precious, pearl-like nature of her finished creations. Adding to the store’s dynamic identity, its three main room dividers all rotate on their axes to allow for easy spatial reconfigurations. On the rear side of one of the panels, a screen introduces a way to highlight process footage or video artworks; others incorporate mirrors to assist customers interested in trying pieces on.
All in all, the space effectively satisfies Ferragamo’s desire to evoke “the sensation of being inside a living organism — a space that moves, breathes, changes like my jewellery pieces do.”
As shoppers set out in search of romantic Valentine’s Day gifts this weekend, they would do well to consider SO-LE Studio’s “remnants into riches” jewellery. (To commemorate the opening of its new store, SO-LE has even expanded to new product categories, introducing its first rings and handbags.)
And while there’s always something to be said for the element of surprise, perhaps in this case it’s best to bring one’s significant other along to advise on potential selections in person. After all, it would be a shame for anyone to miss out on a visit to this space.
Valentine’s Day shoppers are in for a treat at SO-LE Studio’s first retail space, designed by the architecture team at Fondamenta.