We have met Federica Sala, a very young jewellery designer who recently received an enormous success at the MAD Museum in New York. We have been following her work with great interest for some time: we have asked her some questions to learn more about her work and her poetics.
First Drops: What encouraged you to dedicate your time to the art of jewellery and what does it mean to you?
Federica Sala: I first encountered the world of contemporary jewellery because I was looking for a way to bring together all my interests and all the things that arouse my curiosity, namely Science and Art. The only jewels I have ever really found interesting and valuable are ethnic jewels. They have meaning, an extrinsic anthropological value: they are so strongly associated to whoever wears them that they become a code of communication. Those I saw every day weren’t enough for me. So I started to look for something that could speak for those who do not want to communicate with words…and found a world where all the things that I find valuable are concentrated and become real.
Making jewellery means using your head and your hands without allowing one to prevail over the other. It means to talk and listen to your body to bring out its beauty, elegance and harmony.
PE: Where did you train?
FS: My “legitimate” training comes from a degree in Design awarded by the Polytechnic in Milan. At the same time I attended a basic goldsmith’s course at the Scuola Orafa Ambrosiana and used the chance of an Erasmus exchange in the first year of my post-graduate degree course to attend the Duncan Jordanstone School of Arts and Design in Scotland, which is a jewellery design faculty. This forged my success: it allowed me to understand that there was much more and motivated my stubbornness in wanting to pursue in Italy what I had experienced as the “norm” abroad. It is only thanks to that experience in Scotland that I got to know about Alchimia, the contemporary jewellery school in Florence.
When I returned to Italy, I was lucky enough to work as Giorgio Vigna’s assistant for several years, it is an experience that allowed me to gain maturity before moving to Florence to achieve a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts at Alchimia.
For me, the challenge of making jewels is in its ability to synthesise all this.
PE: Which aspects of your work do you love most?
FS: The freedom, researching and experimenting with materials.
PE: Which difficulties have you encountered?
FS: The limits to freedom.
PE: Which themes inspire your artistic research? How do you develop them or do they change in time?
FS: I work with illusion. Every illusion originates thought and inspiration. A lot of things can generate or be an illusion. It is something I think of as I read, walk, talk, visit an exhibition, as I travel. It is where everything comes from. Then there is the research generated by an idea. Depending on the topic, it can be scientific or artistic research, or something else…At times, the idea arises by chance, other times it is induced. In the latter case, you stop and analyse the work you have done until that moment. You criticise it or ask others to execute it with you and you work to improve it or make it different.
PE: Can you explain the technical specificities of some of your work, as if you were talking to someone who doesn’t have a clue about the practical side of art?
FS: Each of my pieces has a more or less concealed detail that justifies and explains its existence. The detail I add to each piece allows those who grasp it to appreciate its value. This detail normally coincides with its technical complexity. With glass, it is associated to the different processing for the inside and the outside of the pearls, for wood it is cutting along the veins, in other cases there are concealed precious materials …
PE: In the New York exhibition, a lot of collectors showed to appreciate your pieces. What struck them most?
FS: I think it is the complexity concealed in the simplicity.
PE: Do you like working on demand or do prefer to work based on a set project?
FS: I have never had the opportunity to work on demand, I usually work alone, with time schedules associated to exhibitions or other projects where my art is shown.
PE: How do you like to relate with your clients?
FS: I like it when instead of coming to me directly, a client contacts me after seeing my work and wants to meet me and would like an update on new upcoming projects.
PE: Is it important for you to make the artwork you design with your own hands? Would you entrust their realisation to others?
FS: Physical contact with my pieces is of utmost importance, but sometimes I can’t do everything on my own. Using glass has taught me to delegate and trust others. Working with the experts can at times lead to the development of new ideas and asking for help means that you don’t have any technical restrictions, I think it is only right to do so.
PE: What is your dream for the future?
FS: I would very much like to teach.
In the images jewelry realized in borosilicate glass and metals by Federica Sala.
The young designer personalizes the glass blowing technique, intensifying the reflecting properties of glass.