klaylife: Chandeliers empowering women in South Africa

As soon as we saw these stunning clay chandeliers on Instagram we knew we had to find out more!

We tracked down the Melbourne-based South African father-daughter duo, Phillip Jones and Kerri Wallace, and discovered the beauty of these clay-beaded chandeliers goes well beyond their appearances.

Introducing klaylife, chandeliers that draw on African heritage and craftsmanship where each bead is hand rolled using raw clay by a community of women in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, who would otherwise have limited work opportunities.

Related article: Architectural lighting by designer Ross Gardam
Related article: The ultimate guide for achieving a coastal interior style

klaylife chandelier
Close up of chandelier

Like us, Kerri discovered the chandeliers on Instagram back in February 2014 and falling in love with the unusual and stunning creations, she had to find out more. Her search led her to South African native Merewyn De Heer, who designs and produces the centrepieces from a farm in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

“My dad and I had already booked a trip to South Africa, so arranged to meet Merewyn face-to-face to see if there was a way we could work together, and import the chandeliers to Australia to reach a wider audience,” says Kerri.

Kerri and Phillip soon learnt that Merewyn, a former advertising executive, gave up her occupation to pursue her passion for design and social responsibility. At the time, however, she hadn’t considered exporting her products to an overseas market.

“Merewyn’s a brilliant designer and business woman, but she didn’t have any knowledge or experience in importing and exporting. Fortunately, my dad had spent his entire life in the industry, so from there, we entered into a really great partnership,” says Kerri.

Black chandelier

Merewyn’s farm is located close to a HIV centre, and wanting to find a way to help the local HIV impacted women who couldn’t find work due to the stigma attached, offered them employment.

Starting with eight HIV impacted staff, she now has a team of 65 women of varying backgrounds and circumstances who create the hanging masterpieces.

Every chandelier is numbered and comes with a certificate of authenticity, in addition to being fully compliant with Australia’s electrical requirements.

White chandelier

“Not only are the chandeliers stunning creations, they go a long way in helping a small group of South African women be self-sufficient to support their families and local community.”

Visit the klaylife website to see the full range or connect with them on Instagram.

More products for the home

Gina Beschorner Style Curator

Welcome to Style Curator, your destination for daily interiors inspiration, styling tips, reno advice, home tours and DIY projects!

We're on a mission to help you create a home you love. And with plenty of tips and tricks, tutorials and other home inspo, we give you all the tools to achieve it!

I’m Gina, Founder and Interior Designer, and you can read more about Style Curator here.


Get the best of the blog to your inbox each week PLUS instant access to our free downloads!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.
    Interior style quiz

    Shop our fave online stores

    As seen in

    Style Curator in the media