Aotearoa artists, Kemi & Niko, alchemise an obsession with backcountry architecture with real appreciation of raw materials rich in history. Their collectable Mini Huts and original artworks (or Hutworks) are well sought after throughout the motu serving to connect backcountry lovers to their sense of place while using real materials that have a positive impact on the environment.
Based in the Waikato, Kemi Whitwell & Niko Leyden have a dedicated background in fine craft sculpture with salvaged materials. Innovative crafting of waste materials over the past 10 years has led to large, community-engaged, public art projects; speaking at conferences and teaching workshops both locally and abroad, in Australia and Singapore.
Inspired by hut builders of old, they have pioneered modern processing of large discarded tin cans to produce miniature corrugated iron for their iconic Mini Hut range. They are currently developing a new line of one-off Bigature huts to further utilise this material and explore the eccentricities of certain iconic huts.
Kemi & Niko, and their two daughters, live rurally on a multi-generational eco-lifestyle property. Any spare moments are used tending to the garden and regenerating bush that Niko’s grandparents started, while also building their bespoke tiny house on wheels from reclaimed materials.