Crafted from gold, brown diamonds and ebony, Valentina Brugnatelli’s necklaces, rings and bracelets are unique art objects that some of the world’s top fashion designers choose to pair with their own creations. Behind this signature style is an Italian designer who developed her individual point of view while living in Switzerland and studying fashion in Paris. The independent spirit and global experience that motivates Valentina’s refined and eclectic accessories resonates in the name of the design group she works with, The Wandering Collective.
I turned to Valentina with some questions in order to learn more about the creative hand that has gone from working with melon seeds as a child to crafting classical references, deco style, and colorful brushstrokes into jewelry now appearing on Europe’s catwalks.
When and how did you discover your passion for jewelry?
As far as I can remember, I always have had a passion for jewellery. As an 8-10 year old kid, in summer at the seaside in Liguria, I would dry melon and watermelon seeds in the sun and then make necklaces and bracelets out of them.
At a certain point I even put up an atelier, directing all my girlfriends and selling my creations at night to the local people who were having their evening “passeggiata.” By the end of the summer my family was fed up with eating all those melons in order to supply my atelier with seeds!
I think my mom still has one of these rather hippie creations!
What is the first piece of jewelry you ever wore or bought?
It was a series of plexi broaches in different shapes. I bought them at Rinascente in Milano. Early eighties. One was shaped like a carrot! I had a little cushion where they were all were displayed (my mom has kept it!)
Where does your inspiration come from? What are you looking at or thinking about while you’re designing your pieces?
I don’t really have rules when it comes to inspiration. Sometimes it’s just a picture that strikes me for it’s colour. Sometimes it’s the shape of an object. And sometimes I like to push myself beyond my “comfort zone” and experiment with something new, something that I’m not 100% sure of, but that will make my design boundaries expand.
I always try to trigger an emotion with my jewels , either you love them or you hate them. Nothing is worse than a purely “decorative” object that leaves you indifferent!
Do you think Italian jewelry designers have a distinct aesthetic?
More than a particular aesthetic, I think Italians generally have a deeply rooted love for quality, for the beauty of a well done object. They are extremely sensitive to that. This is why design-wise they are stronger in “classical” jewellery and maybe not so “progressive ” as Nordic countries.
If you didnʼt have to think about time, money, or clients what project would you most like to pursue?
I would love to have my own private atelier with some of the most skilled artisans at my disposal for experimenting. I love the interaction between the designer and the person who actually brings your design to life. I always try to leave some space to the artisan’s interpretation. Their love and enthusiasm always adds to the final result.
How would you describe your style?
After working for more than 20 years for big luxury brands, it takes time to really establish your own style. It’s a permanent exploration, but generally speaking I would say that I’m a very honest and concrete person, and yet very eclectic and adventurous. I love playing with colour and I love playing with classical design, always trying to give that special twist that makes it look familiar, but still different.