Made from the Earth. Designed for the World.
klaylife - The home of all things handmade by artisans from around the globe. Best known for our clay bead chandeliers, handmade by a beautiful community in South Africa, we have fast become a hub for 'pieces with purpose' from all corners of the world. Everything we make and source tells a story and most importantly, creates Trade (not Aid) for communities around the world who need the income.
From handmade ceramic lighting, to decor, to jewellery, we hope you find that special piece you've been looking for x
klaylife was founded by family trio Phillip + Kerri (South Africans who now reside in Melbourne, Australia) plus Kerri’s husband Luke. Phillip was ready to retire from his career as a food importer and manufacturer when Kerri, a tired Breakfast Radio Producer talked him into a little project that shouldn't take up much of his time. Years later, Phillip is working harder than ever managing the warehouse, international logistics and compliance while Kerri is the person you will often chat to on the phone (while she scours the earth for beautiful things). Luke is the guy who manages the website and all things digital. Keeping everything connected is Jenna, our admin / office / production extraordinaire who cracks the whip and keeps everything running smoothly and on time.
How it all happened….
klaylife was born
A trip to South Africa to visit family spurned a chance meeting with a designer and manufacturer of clay beaded chandeliers. Over a long coffee, plans were drafted to import a small range of chandeliers to Australia. A partnership was formed, and what started with one shipping container soon became many.
The Story Behind the Chandeliers
Unlike so many products that come off the factory line, ours have a human story. They’re lovingly created by a community of women in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa*. Drawing on African heritage and craftsmanship, each clay bead is hand rolled using raw clay. They are then sun dried, kiln fired and dip-dyed and in the case of our lights, masterfully strung onto its unique iron frame. This hand made process ensures that no two pieces will ever be the same.
Initially, our clay beaded pieces were crafted by local women whose lives had been impacted by HIV and so desperately needed an income to support their families. Over time, as popularity grew, more and more women with differing circumstances approached us for work. As a result the criteria has been broadened to any local woman who is prepared to put in the effort to create something special.
In 2012, 8 ladies were permanently employed. There are now over 65 dedicated women rolling beads and creating their own masterpiece. More importantly, they’re making a difference to their local community.
Today our chandeliers can be found lighting up some of the most gorgeous homes, hotels, restaurants and reception centres around the world.
Watch the video on how we’re made:
Lights, Camera, Action! Greenhouse Interiors, Jacqui Moore x Armelle Habib Collaboration
Our chandeliers are spectacular. They are grand, they are feature pieces that not only light up a room, but transform a space into something special. To showcase how special these works of art are, we teamed up with Greenhouse Interiors stylist Jacqui Moore and photographer Armelle Habib to do our first feature photo shoot. Months of planning, sourcing props and a unique warehouse space, we showcased to the world how special these lights really are. A lighting star was born.
Say Hola! P O T T joins the klaylife family
klaylife soon becomes the go to destination for feature lighting. Through our travels, we discovered a Spanish brand, designer and hand crafter of clay lighting - POTT. Is this the long lost sibling we’ve been looking for? We made contact, and after a series of back and forth, we welcomed a new member to the klaylife family; POTT from Southern Spain.
Offering a modern spin on handmade clay lighting, the POTT lights were an instant hit. Their team of designers combined with the old fashioned hand made clay traditions have produced a range of unique, spectacular lights designed to make any room pop. The klaylife family had just got a little larger.
Moore Concepts - our new kindred spirit.
You know when you just vibe with someone? That someone for us was Jacqui Moore of Moore Concepts. After the wildly successful debut photoshoot, the dreamy styling and nothing but positive energy, we had found our spirit animal. When it came time for our next campaign, there was no one else we wanted to lead that. And our next shoot was underway….
Clay Bead Jewellery - the ultimate gift with purpose.
We started to wonder, what else could we create with these amazing handmade clay beads? Beads have been a staple feature within jewellery and African fashion for ever, so it was s only natural we had dreams of wearing what we create.
We came across a jewellery designer by the name of Elodie who shared the same passion as us, the beauty of imperfection and natural shapes and lines.
A collaboration was formed, designs were created and statements were made.
Three Birds Renovations take klaylife to a whole new level
The dynamic renovation trio that is Three Birds Renovations need no introduction. A golden eye for good bones and classic shapes, the Birds have transformed houses and spaces into ‘forever homes’ you could only dream of. And when it comes to things can stand the test of time matched with style and grace, our clay handmade chandeliers were the perfect choice for multiple Three Birds projects including their own personal homes and office.
The Block comes a knockin' - Josh & Elyse deliver the winning hallway in the winning home.
One day we get an urgent phone call from Elyse Knowles, a contestant on The Block. “We really love your lights and need to come and have a look at what you have on hand ASAP!” A mad dash across town to the warehouse space we were sharing, we unboxed a few beauties and there was no question about it. A grand entrance requires a bold statement, and there is nothing that creates a statement like the Elongated chandelier.
Fast forward a few months till the show aired on national television, and we were very proud to be part of the winning team that not only won the week for the best Entrance, but also the winning house for the whole series.
The Queen of Wallhangings
Our tribal inspired roots combined with the handmade and unique macrame creations of Melbourne designer and creator Three Queens Interiors was a collaboration made in heaven. A collection of one off wall hangings were crafted and sold out in minutes.
A New Home - The Melbourne Showroom Launch
Having been based out of garages and shared warehouse spaces for the past 4 years, klaylife had grown up and was ready to have it’s own space. The Melbourne Showroom / Office / Warehouse was launched in 2018!
Finally, a space to call our own. And a space for you to come visit us and see, touch and feel the handmade klaylife range in person.
A partnership was born - Uniqwa, MRD Home and Papaya
To showcase our beautiful handmade lights, we need furniture, homewares and soft furnishings to compliment the range. Partnerships were born with like minded brands to bring our showroom to life. Uniqwa, MRD Home and Papaya all joined the klaylife fold under our new showroom range and having only just moved in, we were almost ready to outgrow the new space already!
Uniqwa x klaylife collaboration
A shared loved of Africa, the beauty of imperfection and natural materials meant a collaboration between Uniqwa x klaylife was bound to happen. Taking the span of almost a year from inception to completion, the range was considered, unique and so very meaningful.
Go slow and stay home
And then the world just stopped. Covid, stay at home orders and the shut down of industries such as manufacturing, logistics and retail. What will happen and will we survive? Like most small businesses, the future was very uncertain, there was not much we could do except stay home and take it slow. And that’s when things started to grow…
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
One of the surprise trends of COVID and everyone staying at home, people couldn’t spend money on holidays and other treats. Some decided to invest in renovations and making their home their haven. Despite taking things slow, orders increased and our little business grew stronger. The appreciation for the finer things in life grew deeper. So we thought, how could we spread our wings wider?