The brainchild of Claire O’Keefe, an artist with a background in fashion, and Eugenia Oliva, a poet and copywriter, Keef Palas is a Barcelona-based jewelry label that takes its cues (and its materials) from nature.
Keef Palas stands as a rejection of fast fashion: but the jewelry designers behind it aren’t embracing slow living as part of their brand strategy. Instead of promising timeless quality, Keef Palas wears come with an expiration date and request for refrigeration. The adventure into this eclectic jewelry design came about when Oliva visited O’Keefe with a couple of olives and an idea: earrings. “When we wore them on the street, people would stop us, fascinated, and would ask ‘what’s that?'”, the pair explain. But it was the fact that no one asked which label made the earrings, or where they could buy them, that made them realize quickly that they were onto something special. We caught up with them to learn how they were (in their own words) “keefin’ up the good work”, and to chat about the origins of their intriguing label and the significance of plants to it.
Where did your label’s name come from?
The name comes from our surnames: Keef, from Claire O’Keefe and Palas from Palas Athena, who in a battle over the city of Athens against Poseidon, offered an olive tree, the surname of Eugenia Oliva (olive), to its citizens who decided it was the greatest offering and made her the patron.
What is the significance of plants to the project?
We want to bring nature closer to people who in general are so disconnected from it today. Also, because of its ephemerality, unlike fine jewelry, our pieces are made to enjoy, and not own.
How do you determine which plants are included in your collections?
We work with plants from the region where we are currently based, the Mediterranean. If we moved to California one day, we would design a Pacific collection, or if we moved to Morocco we would design an Atlantic one. There’s a phrase that we like from Patricia Highsmith: we spend our lives looking for what we have in our backyard. Keef Palas philosophy is to play with the resources we have. The key is humor and anarchy.
"[The] Keef Palas philosophy is to play with the resources we have. The key is humor and anarchy."
Could you explain the way Keef Palas is rejecting fast fashion, and the significance of this rejection to the label’s ethos?
Our jewels are ephemeral, or in other words: they last a specific period of time and that is our leitmotiv. We don’t change it, it’s our objection. In contraposition to the short life of fast fashion, ruled by the restrictions of economic neoliberalism, Keef Palas ascribes her ephemeral aim to the laws of Nature.
In your manifesto, you’ve stated that phases III and IV of Keef Palas are in development, can you tell us what’s next for you?
Keep it busy high on Keef! Our model III is what is currently in the market. For IV, the earring will be designed with sustainable noble materials.