Getting to Know Kemi & Niko

14th January 2021

Art duo and nomadic lifestylers, Kemi and Niko are the creative team behind The Urban Hut Club. This February, The Urban Hut Club, a public art project showcasing colourful and sustainably built mini huts, will be part of The Garden Party Festival. Now sit, back, relax and read our interview with Kemi & Niko and check out the complete Garden Party line up next month by our friends at Verb Wellington! We're proud as punch to be the official bookseller for this awesome neighbourhood gig! You can also check out The Urban Hut Club Kapiti huts throughout the summer, here.

What is your day job?

Professional artists, Kemi Niko & Co, working mainly in public art and object design.

What is your connection to Vic Books?

We are hosting Roaming Hut as part of The Garden Party in February. 

What are you working on at the moment?

We are currently building ourselves a tiny house on wheels that will roam with us as we work on our Hut projects around the country (next stop Queenstown).

And your latest project?

In between salvaged material prep and design on the tiny house we have created a new batch of Mini Huts which are ever developing. This batch incorporated some new tramping hut inspiration including historic Cecil Kings Hut which was crafted from a single beech tree that fell on the site.

The Urban Hut Club combines outdoor exploration and sustainability with storytelling - are these some of your absolute passions as artists?

A big part of our motivation is for people of all ages to experience and appreciate nature in new ways. Our built structures allow for wonder and storytelling to naturally emerge within these individual experiences, whether in the public logbooks or the short stories written by local authors.

The biggest and most mobile of the huts, Roaming Hut, will appear at The Garden Party here in Wellington - tell us more about what visitors can expect to see!

The great thing about Roaming Hut is that it creates an intimate space where a surprising range of encounters can arise. We are working with Verb Wellington to fill the two days with a variety of writer and artist activations, there could be comedy, drawing sessions, poetry readings and much more.

You have recently started living a nomadic lifestyle - do you have a favourite hidden spot in Aotearoa you can recommend? Do you think the pandemic has made New Zealanders appreciate their own back yard even more than before?

Oh definitely. We have an abundance of natural beauty here and it's great to see locals enjoying it more. Our favourite spot is hidden along the Great Coast Road south of Westport. We are forever aiming to get back there!

What are you most looking forward to about appearing at The Garden Party?

Soaking up some live music and chatting to Wellingtonians.

Who are you most excited to see at The Garden Party?

Tom Sainsbury! He is our favourite comedy artist and we are excited to read his new book.

Some quick fire book recommendations please!

Pip Adam - Nothing to See

Knox & Larsen - Monsters in the Garden

Elizabeth Knox - Wake

Lawrence Patchett - The Burning River

Rose Lu - All Who Live on Islands

What are you reading at the moment?

Monsters in the Garden by Elizabeth Knox. 

What do you like about it?

Fun imagining alternative histories and futures for Aotearoa.

Which literary character do you most identify with? Why?

Alobar & Kudra from Tom Robbins Jitterbug Perfume

Such a hard question! We usually choose books that show insights into others lives. We love all Tom Robbins characters and these two are the ultimate duo seeking immortality and having fun doing it.

Hardback or paperback?

Paperback.

Favourite coffee?

Flat white in a tulip cup.