Soledad Proaño is an engineer turned jewelry and accessories designer who has a life story that spans from South America to the United States. Since moving to Los Angeles Soledad has started her design business ‘Sol del Sur’ where she designs stunning jewelry and accessory pieces that often play with the juxtaposition of soft and hard. The impeccable details and structures of her designs still allows her engineering past to show through her work.
MadlyJuicy: Tell us about your journey to America and how it impacted your design aesthetic?
Soledad Proaño: I moved to the US because I wanted to be with my husband, and he was living here. I didn’t really realize what I was getting myself into; a long and sometimes hard journey into my inner self. I basically left my career and life behind and started from scratch.
At first I didn’t know who I was or even what I wanted, but after some years I’m finally feeling like I am where I want to be and more importantly, where I want to go. And that means a lot to my aesthetic too! By making peace with my past as an engineer I’ve been able to incorporate that into my design process and be okay with it.
Living here has exposed me to a great deal of artists and visual information; some of it resonated with me right away and certainly has influenced my design aesthetic. I have especially been inspired by fiber art from the seventies.
MJ: How did you start designing?
S.P: Designing for me is a result of my love for crafts, having fixated ideas of what I want (and not having it available) and an irresistible attraction for beautiful things. Put all those together and you have a designer. My mom did a little crafting work when I was a kid, and that was enough to spark my curiosity.
When I was about ten years old, my dad took my sister and I to spend holidays with our family in Ecuador, which we had met only once before (that I could remember). I handmade every one of the gifts that year, and not because anyone told me, it just seemed the right thing to do. That’s the handmade part, but it took me way too long to fully think of things in terms of actual objects totally created by me. I’m always thinking of different things I would like to have or make, but I just don’t have the time to do it. Maybe one day.
MJ: What was your overall inspiration for the Fall 2012 Collection?
S.P: For my latest designs, I went subtler with lilac, natural leather, grey and black, and metallics. I started mixing more metallics into my designs and I really love that. For my nebulas, the old works of the fiber artist Sheila Hicks inspired me, and just trying to make small structures out of metals and fibers.
MJ: What is your favorite part of the design process?
S.P: I like the balance between actual design and technique development. When you design handmade things, you have to actually make prototypes a couple of times (or maybe more!) as a way to get it where you want to. And in between those prototypes, I take some days off so the ideas take form in my head, and suddenly I come up with an improvement or a solution to a particular problem. Then I go and make it, and see if it works. It is a long process but I’ve learned the more it takes, the better results I get.
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