Stories of Travel Told through Objects

Stories and Objects is a collection of destinations explored through their culture and craftsmanship and exclusive edition collaborations made by the creators and cultivators. Each artisan gift has been handmade, handcrafted or hand-harvested to the highest standards in each destination and offered by Stories and Objects as a souvenir to complement the storytelling experience. We spoke to Jamie Leilani Pelayo about his journey in creating a unique travel and craft business.

Journey with Design and Textiles

As a child living in the midwestern heart of America, fashion and design were concepts that I learned about through magazines and television programs in the nineties when fashion was a glamorous extension of a lifestyle. Magazines such as W MagazineHarpers Bazaar and Vogue served as an education of sorts and a voyeuristic lens into a life I wanted to live.

I studied abroad for a school year and attended the London College of Fashion in England which gave me an up close view of the long tradition of textile fashioning in the world. In addition to the many trips to gaze upon the costume collections at The Victoria & Albert Museum, we also visited small designer ateliers in Paris, Frame and crafters in Florence, Italy. I began to understand that what I enjoyed most about this field was learning about the way design, for much of its history, was inextricably linked to cultures or cultural movements. The history of garments and motifs, and how they became a part of our visual language or persona was of utmost intrigue.   

I held a few different positions mainly on the public relations and marketing side of the fashion industry which also took me to small ateliers throughout Europe including a stint in Istanbul, but my career and path really took shape when I moved to New York to join the publishing side of Vogue Magazine. I was fortunate to join during a time where the publication was exploring television programming and online video was emerging. I was promoted from assistant to a managing producer of those programs and was able to travel abroad and visit the ateliers of fashion and luxury goods designers. 

One visit to the Tod’s factory in the Marche region of Italy was pivotal in the formation of Stories + Objects. Ninety percent of traditional shoemaking was from this region and many of passed down techniques were being implemented in the crafting of the driving loafer. It was the first time in my observation that the cultural connection between the high quality crafting of a goods and a place were acutely tangible. This trip implanted the seed of inspiration that blossomed into the S+O concept several years later.

Jamie in the maiwai jacket from Japan

Jamie in the maiwai jacket from Japan

Craft and Fast fashion

Without craft there wouldn’t be fast fashion. Fast fashion is a form of fashion that takes the product of someone else’s creative process and replicates it with great speed and diminished quality. It’s hard enough to have original ideas these days and I think it’s truly been detrimental to the design process to have created a consumer appetite that doesn’t allow for this originality, let alone appreciate the cost associated with the time spent developing it through quality materials. The opposing view is that fast fashion has made certain design ideas more accessible to people who cannot afford slow-made products. I’m not sure if it is a solution to go back to the slow ways of fashion fully because it may not be sustainable for the demand, but I think there is an educational aspect to be explored that will help modern society value the process and cost to slow crafted goods. 

'A piece of textile is both a work of art and design'

A single fiber is taken and thoughtfully combined with others to make a creation born from someone’s mind. This is absolutely a work of art and design, whether its genius comes from its simplicity or intricateness. 

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The Craft Project wishes to document tangible anthropology i.e material culture of a place and comment on its relevance in the contemporary space. We also wish to bring together a community of cultural travelers and craft entrepreneurs and create a collective of common motivation. The Craft Project celebrates Diversity in culture through objects, folk arts, crafts, and design.  Through this project, we will be conducting community-sourced primary research and publishing about crafts and will involve brands, NGOs, collectives, makers, designers, curators, thought leaders, other publications etc. 

Jamie with a berber man in morocco.

Jamie with a berber man in morocco.

Jamie’s inspiration board

Jamie’s inspiration board

A balance of modern and traditional

This was definitely honed by my years observing the making of luxury goods. Much of the contemporary aesthetic as seen in our curated objects comes from the packaging of the objects rather than changing the designs that the artisans create.  I’ve chosen materials and neutral color schemes that complement the works, not detract from them. I think this is where the balance is created, keeping the materials simple in form and function, but always well crafted. And, always created to highlight the artisans work.

Cultural background and aesthetics

I wouldn’t say that my cultural background influenced my aesthetics, rather it was my education in aesthetics that informed them. I spent most of my life as a student observing others tastes while learning to understand my own over time. 

When it comes to design districts, they often start out at an interesting intersection of culture and diversity.  I think it’s because artists tend to be attracted to areas in cities that are more affordable and have a more eclectic mix of people living there. The neighborhoods are often more industrial and raw in both the spaces offered to create art and also the daily rhythm of life observed on the streets. They tend to start out as places that are a bit chaotic, gritty, on the fringe of society and lacking bland homogeneity, which is great inspiration for creativity and free expression.

Indian and Asian Crafts globally
I believe there is a great respect for the tradition of Indian and Asian Crafts. I hear of more and more new designers from Europe and the United States working with these craftsmen to create beautiful goods that incorporate traditional techniques from the region which is important for preservation of these skills. This is important, because I believe one of the biggest challenges I’ve witnessed globally is the preservation of the skills and desire to sustain the crafts. The masters tend to be from older generations and cannot seem to find enough young apprentices with the passion and devotion to the craft that they had in order to sustain themselves over a lifetime. The youth want to go to university and take jobs in new and exciting industries. They don’t see the value in carrying on these old methods which are often tedious and time consuming. The single most important thing is to convince a segment of a generation that these traditions are worthwhile to continue. And this is where the opportunity lies and the strengths as well, because there is actually a sustained demand globally for the unique skillset of the Indian and Asian artisans.  Hopefully the youthful artisans will not only prosper by contributing their craftwork to designs sold within the international marketplace, but also be inspired to become true masters to future apprentices to continue for generations to come.

Jamie’s Studio

Jamie’s Studio