Klei is a multidisciplinary design practice based in Melbourne.
Time is divided between designing and manufacturing the range of jewellery and women’s wear as well as one-off hand built ceramic vessels and objects.
The klei aesthetic is defined by a muted palette of colours that appear as though they were once vivid and overwhelming, but years of exposure have softened the surface area leaving them subdued and worn. The colours they work with are created by staining the clay body which produces a palette that could not be achieved by just painting the surface.
The shapes they aspire to are void of harsh angles and bold surface detail, and instead call to mind visions of modern relics.
The wax-like patina of their beads and pots is achieved by burnishing the surface area, a process that can take several hours for larger forms, at specific intervals during the drying process.
The Klei workroom reveals much about the varying scale of their work- trays of beads, some just 2mm in diameter, sit next to half burnished vessels almost a meter high.
“Klei” is the collaboration of Barbara van Oost and Ben Paola. The couple met in 1995 while dancing with the Rotterdam Dance Group in The Netherlands and settled in Melbourne in 2002. While their artistic paths have at times taken different directions, their vision has now converged allowing them to utilize their diverse skills to create the harmonious partnership that is “Klei”.
Their goal is to create pieces that have a timeless appeal and will be enjoyed for years to come.