Combining the spirit of Puglia and the treasures of the South Pacific, Manuela creates highly versatile and wearable pieces by contrasting raw materials such as hemp, silk, and linen with precious materials, such as pearls and semi-precious stones. In between studio time and family time, Manuela tells us what she loves about her homeland and her favorite spots.
Describe Puglia in one sentence.
Puglia is a hidden treasure that reveals itself generously with just a bit of curiosity.
When do you feel most satisfied?
During sunset, it is the perfect time to take a break, recap your day, and enjoy a glass of wine.
How do you spend a day off?
By the sea, where you talk about how to relax and recharge.
How do you think your best friend would describe you?
Real, without unnecessary refinements.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
We like to think of ourselves as self-made people. Where we are now. Is just the result of our own efforts and creativity.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs in Puglia?
Don’t be shy to try, work real hard, and, most important, love what you do.
Where can we find your jewelry in Puglia?
In our studio showroom in Bari.
How do you create your collections? Sheer inspiration or intention?
The magic is everywhere but first of all, it must be in yourself!
How does your jewelry express the spirit of Puglia?
We are children of this land…we don’t need to venture too far to find inspiration for our designs. Our motherland offers enchantment in spades.
Any Apulian designers that you particularly love?
There are many talented Apulians working in the fashion world, photography, and the design sector and they all have that touch of genius that makes their work unique.
Eco-sustainability is an important aspect of your work; do you use every fiber of cashmere, silk, or other materials?
We have always used natural materials even when eco-sustainability was not an everyday term. We have always been fascinated by the contrast between the poor raw fibers and the rich luster of the pearls, the total handwork was our personal third ingredient
When you are out in the world, do people know about Puglia? What is their first impression?
When we started going around the world people were almost unaware of Puglia… right now they have discovered the secret and they are mad about it!
Where can we find you having coffee?
Our sweet spot for coffee is our studio’s terrace, a little garden on our rooftop to relax and enjoy a beautiful view not away from our working room.
Your favorite dinner spot in Puglia?
If not home, we love small restaurants hidden in the country where you can have a taste of delicious traditional and genuine Apulian cuisine.
Project! Projects! Projects!
To book an appointment at the studio in Bari, contact her via e-mail.
Follow Mela Jewelry at instagram.com/mela_jewelry/
Oliver Dahle is a Swedish writer who is based in Florence and earlier also lived in Rome. He has earlier written about lifestyle covering Scandinavia. With a Masters degree in Fashion Marketing he has a deep interest in fashion in general, but Italian fashion in particular. Besides fashion, other interests are football, photography, design and architecture, travelling and, of course, food.