Rather than precious diamonds and gold, jewellery designer Maria Sole Ferragamo’s materials of choice are leather off-cuts and metal shavings. Drawing on her architecture degree from the Politecnico di Milano, and master’s in jewellery from Central Saint Martins, London, the founder of So-Le Studio produces pieces with sharply defined forms that resist traditional silhouettes: earrings curl around the whorl of the ear or graze the shoulder, while oversized necklaces drape over the body like garments.

Ferragamo moved her brand from London to Milan in 2020, and produces her pieces in Florence. At first, she was fascinated by the possibilities of upcycled Italian leather, teasing the leftover material into sculptural swirls, with the scraps reborn as intricate jewellery pieces. Her 2021 Trucioli collection marked her first time using discarded brass as the main material, transforming the shavings leftover from the production of the metallic components of her leather pieces into spiral earrings dipped in gold.

brass necklace by So-Le Studio

Ferragamo is guided by the leftover materials she finds in factories, which often come with no information as to their origins – although she did find out later that the first shavings she ever used ‘came from the clasp of a Ferragamo bag’ (her grandfather was the fashion designer Salvatore Ferragamo). The precarity of the materials lends an added consideration to the design: ‘The value of working with leftover material is that there’s always this sense of uniqueness given by the availability of the material itself,’ she adds.

When Ferragamo recently happened across some metal shavings with a distinctive silhouette that reminded her of both steam punk and art deco, she was drawn to the possibilities inherent in their shape. ‘I instantly fell in love because they had a very precise geometric component,’ she says. She took her time in experimenting with the aesthetic she wanted to create: ‘I played with the idea first. I started putting down a brief for the collection and, as often happens for me, the first piece – the “Poseidon” necklace – is actually the most important one.’

spiral earrings on woman
Maria Sole Ferragamo wearing her ’Tirabaci Iridescent’ earrings, $280, made using gold-dipped brass shavings brushed with epoxy resin

A further surprise came upon discovering the tiny hole running through the middle of the shavings, just large enough for a bronze thread to be passed through. When strung together, the shavings form a fluid and rippling whole that flows around the body. ‘The necklace reminds me of an imaginary underwater world,’ Ferragamo says. Created exclusively for Wallpaper*, ‘Poseidon’ enhances this sense of movement, drawing the gentle undulations of underwater nets in a lattice of brass. Like her past pieces in leather, it assumes a relaxed form, with the bronze appearing as if frozen in movement.

Naturally for jewellery design, it is a piece that puts functionality at the forefront. ‘My pieces are all super comfortable and light,’ says Ferragamo. ‘They’re statement pieces, but you forget you have them on when you’re wearing them. Wearability is always that thought in the back of my mind.’ Ultimately, she captures a simplicity in her intricately woven designs. ‘I want something that is straightforward for the observer,’ she says. ‘Behind it, there’s a huge amount of work and detail, but it leads to a level of balance and perfect harmony, so it feels easy.’ §

gold necklace with coloured beads