When Scottish-born Lorna Watson decided to relocate to Bali, her plan was to design jewellery. Once there, however, the former creative director at Astley Clarke, who has also worked for Dior and De Beers, was inspired to take a different tack. “I saw that there was a pressing need for ways to use local weaving skills,” says Watson. “Bali has a strong handcrafting tradition, but over the past decade this has all but disappeared.” She decided to buoy heritage Balinese basketry by fusing it with her design expertise and a contemporary aesthetic, and last year launched a range of bags and wallets, woven in either a locally grown vine called ata grass or locally sourced leather.
“The name Stelar is a hybrid of the Greek ‘stele’ and the Latin ‘stella’, and refers to taking a stand on sustainability and representing artisans who are the best in their field of craftsmanship,” explains Watson, whose ata bags use the fibre in its natural shade, as well as dyed black. Combined with cotton canvas linings, sailing rope handles and gold-plated brass hardware, the small and neat, cross-body barrel- (£165) and circular-shaped (£110) bags, plus the larger Maluku (£245) design, all have a distinctly nautical vibe. The most versatile bag of all is the two-in-one Madura string bag (£245), which is part string shopper, part woven tote – and brilliant for a beach break.
The leather pieces, meanwhile, come in striking, paint-box-bright colour combinations, from the Rainbow Nusa long wallet (£250), with its zig-zag design of vibrant shades and statement tassel, to the Moyo Drum bag (£395), which comes in Sunshine Yellow, Tomato Red and Electric Blue, as well as black. On each product there is a metal disc featuring a five-digit code; when entered into the Stelar website, this provides further information about the item, the artisans who created it and the communities that Stelar is helping to regenerate.