Jamie Leilani Pelayo defines luxury differently than most. After leaving an illustrious career in high-end fashion, beauty and lifestyle, she founded Stories + Objects, an immersive storytelling platform that showcases the mastery of creators and cultivators around the world through a series of short films.
For Pelayo, the essence of luxury is captured in the narratives of artisans like Basque craftsman Jean-Jacques Houyou, Cuban tobacco farmer Hirochi Robaina, salt worker Brice Collonier from the French island of Île de Ré and Mathieu Brees, a chocolatero living on the Peninsula de Yucatán in Mexico.
Learn about the stories of these artisans and the exquisite objects they create below and at storiesandobjects.com.
An expert knife maker and the fourth-generation owner of the Kikuichi company, Ikuyo Yanagisawa was born into a 750-year-old tradition of sword making. Continuing in her family’s history of masterfully made knives, Yanagisawa is ensuring that the highest quality of handmade craftsmanship distinguishes Kikuichi in the ever expanding global knife-making market. (6:11)
Mayuree Sueriserm was born into the craft of making alms bowls by hand in the village of Ban Bat, where the tradition has subsisted since a royal decree in the 18th century. Sueriserm left school at an early age to work amongst her family and became one of the few women to master each step of the arduous process of bowl making. Her daughter, Maneerat Nakrat, is now working alongside her to ensure their craftsmanship continues to be relevant for the benefit of the community artisans and the devout Buddhist monks who use these bowls. Ban Bat is the last of the villages to preserve this invaluable cultural legacy. (4:54)
The sound of the loom is the signature song of the town of Buldan, a well-known weaver’s enclave in the inner Aegean region of Denizli, Turkey where the tradition is believed to date to Roman times as far back as 800 BC. For much of the past, cotton sourced from nearby fields traveled into the village where nearly every home had a hand loom and at least one family member contributing to the making of local peshtemal garments and towels. Today, much of the work is done by modern machines in large, regional factories, while only a small group of weavers, from ages 20 to 93, continue to make the homespun creations by hand or by mechanized work benches. (5:52)
En Isomoto manages production for Chiso, a Kyoto-based, Yuzen-dyeing fabric and kimono house founded in 1555. His role is to ensure the continuation of the invaluable artistry of traditional dyeing techniques, including the hand-crafted, bespoke silk kimono masterpieces that his team of designers, draftsmen and craftsmen specialists create over a period of four weeks to 18 months, depending on the intricacies of the design. (7:10)
Kosuke Suzuki is a Japanese maiwai master teaching his son, Riki, the craftsmanship skills necessary to continue the 200-year-old tradition of ceremonial garment making. The hand-painted and hand-sewn kimono and hanten jackets made in their Kamogawa atelier are meticulously crafted by applying methods honed through years of observation and deliberate practice. (7:31)
Taha’a, The Society Islands
Ilanda Hioe is a vanilla farmer on the island of Taha’a in the Society Islands of French Polynesia. She cultivates vanilla on a piece of land that her family has owned and farmed for over 100 years. The vanilla orchid and its beans grow plentiful on the island with Hioe and her family tending to the vines in a traditional manner, never employing unnatural techniques to hasten the growth or the drying process. (4:57)
Fakarava, Tuamoto Atolls
Hugo Dariel is a second-generation pearl cultivator on the Tuamotu Atoll of Fakarava in the French Polynesia. The culture of pearling made its way to the atolls just over 30 years ago, with Hugo’s parents serving as the pioneers on Fakarava. Although the pearl produced by the Polynesian black lip oyster, pinctada margaritifera, is relatively new to the pearl cultivation world, it is the only cultured pearl that nature works in mysterious ways to produce in a spectrum of hues, shapes and sizes. (7:46)
Esengül Artisoy is a rose harvester living in the village of Senir, near Isparta, Turkey. The rose harvest, starting in May, is her favorite time of the year. The blooms are plucked before the sun dries the precious oil contained within the Rosa x damascena—one of the two types of roses that produce the oil. Turkish farmers are responsible for some 60 percent of the world’s annual rose harvest. (4:51)
Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
Mathieu Brees is a chocolate maker, living on the Peninsula de Yucatán, Mexico. Originally from Belgium, Brees fell in love with chocolate at an early age and wanted to explore the Central American, Mayan roots of the beloved confection. (4:46)
Mohammed Abdullatif is a master tanner from the venerable city of Fès, Morocco. The traditional techniques employed by the craftsmen are a testament to the artisans’ skills and passions, passed down from their forebears. (5:53)
Jean-Jacques Houyou is an artisan fabricant, or craftsman, making espadrilles in the French Basque Country. Called espartinak in Basque, the shoes are a style of footwear closely linked to his Basque ancestry and are fashioned from natural cotton, jute and rubber. (7:10)
Pinar del Rio, Cuba
Hirochi Robaina is a fifth-generation tobacco farmer in Vuelta Abajo, Cuba’s illustrious, tobacco-growing region, situated in San Luis, Pinar del Río. Following the traditions of his ancestors, and most notably of his grandfather Don Alejandro Robaina, Hirochi is at the helm of La Finca El Pinar Robaina, perhaps the most famous tobacco farm in the region, if not the world. (6:02)
Île De Ré, France
Brice Collonier is a salt worker, or saunier, who collects salt on the French island of Île de Ré in a tradition that dates back to the 12th century when it was introduced by Cistercian monks. (7:15)
The Objects are a collection of exclusive collaborations made by the creators and cultivators featured on Stories+Objects. Each item has been handmade, handcrafted or hand-harvested to the highest standards in each destination and offered by S+O as a souvenir to complement the storytelling experience.
JAPANESE SANTOKU CULINARY KNIFE
This Santoku all-purpose culinary knife was created by the Kikuichi Company following long-standing traditional practices of Japanese knife craftsmanship. Using the highest quality grade of blue carbon steel, this knife was meticulously constructed in sixteen steps by the artisans of Sakai and Nara. Exclusively available on Stories + Objects in a limited edition of fifty knives accompanied by a wooden box for storage and camellia oil for maintenance. $425
BAN BAT BUDDHIST ALMS BOWLS
These Buddhist alms bowls were made by hand in the village of Ban Bat located in the old city center of Bangkok. S+O presents two types of artisan crafted bowls representing the bowls commonly used by both sects of Thai Buddhist monks. Forged by hand, the Maha black lacquered bowl is seven inches in diameter at the rim while the Dhammayut stainless steel bowl is nine inches in diameter at the rim. Each bowl is paired with a wooden base for display. Starting at $225.
BULDAN PESHTEMAL TOWELS
These cotton peshtemals were woven by father and son, Turgut and Ahmet Efeoğlu, in the town of Buldan for Stories + Objects. Traditionally used in the Turkish bath, these lightweight towels are also perfect for the beach and poolside. Sold in a set of two oversized towels with a S+O signature canvas duster bag.
Given the very personal nature of the expressive kimono, Stories + Objects believes the design process is a journey in itself. We are offering our viewers a unique opportunity to join us in Kyoto, Japan to work with Chiso’s Sohya bespoke kimono atelier to create a kimono that speaks to your personal tastes and desires.
This hand-painted and hand-sewn Japanese maiwai hanten jacket was created by maiwai master, Kosuke Suzuki and his son, Riki, for their family owned atelier named Suzusen. The Suzuki family are one of three families continuing in the tradition of making these boldly colored statement jackets and kimonos worn as a festival garments by Japan’s highly esteemed fishing community. Each hanten jacket is made to order for Stories+Objects in a process that takes two to three months.
TAHA’A VANILLA BEANS
These vanilla beans were farmed on the Vanilla Isle of Taha’a where nearly eighty percent of Tahitian vanilla is produced. This organic vanilla, of the highest culinary quality, was grown in the open air and allowed to naturally dry under the South Pacific sun. Each vial contains two beans harvested in late 2016 in a numbered edition of fifty.
FAKARAVA PEARL NECKLACE
This pearl necklace features a singular large cultured pearl sourced from the UNESCO biosphere reserve, Fakarava, by a family of pearl farmers using the traditional cultivation techniques introduced to the islands in the ’60s. The pearl is strung on a matte black rubber strand for an understated, modern feel. Available exclusively at Stories + Objects in an edition of twenty necklaces.
PERSIAN ROSE WATER
This pure Persian Rose Water was made from Mohammadi roses, the local name for Rosa x damascena. The roses are cultivated near Kashan, Iran by traditional farming and double-fired copper distillation methods, producing the highest quality rose water in the world. This 30ml bottle can be used as both beauty tonic and for culinary purposes. Available only through Stories + Objects in a numbered edition of one hundred.
TURKISH ROSE OIL
An exclusively formulated Turkish rose oil is made from organically harvested Rosa x damascene (the hybrid Damask rose, known for its fine fragrance) in the Isparta Province. Too potent on its own, the precious rose oil has been expertly blended with other highly beneficial oils of macadamia, apricot kernel, sweet almond and avocado.
CRIOLLO CACAO BAR
The Mayan cacao bar was exclusively made to include organic criollo cacao, Mexican vanilla and melipona honey harvested from stingless bees indigenous to the Yucatán region.
These handmade totes are crafted in the Moroccan city of Fès by leather artisans following exacting methods passed down from generations.
Handcrafted in the Mauléon atelier of Basque shoemaker Jean-Jacques Houyou, these striped canvas espadrilles were notably worn by tileworkers but reached iconic status when early 20th century artists and bon vivants adopted the style.
CIGARO PURO HUMIDOR
The Cigarro Puro Humidor is exclusively designed in fragrant Spanish cedar and stone clay. Each comes with a souvenir cigarro puro hand-rolled in the illustrious tobacco region of Pinar de Río, Cuba.
Île de Ré Gros Sel, or coarse salt, consists of large crystals and has a subtle flavor and crisp texture that makes it perfect for cooking.
FLEUR DE SEL
Île de Ré Fleur de Sel is a pure white salt hand-harvested by sauniers under precise condi-tions in the summer afternoons. The fine granules harbor an explosive taste that make the choice finishing salt.
STORY IMAGES PHOTOGRAPHED BY BRIAN SOKOL
PRODUCT IMAGES PHOTOGRAPHED BY DIMITRI NEWMAN