Batten & Kamp

Functional sculpture duo Ali Batten and Daniel Kamp let us into their studio to explore their creative journey, process and inspirations.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Ali: My name is Ali Batten and my partner is Daniel Kamp, we co-own Batten and Kamp and we design functional sculptures. We have a studio in an industrial building in Kennedy Town on Hong Kong Island from which we design and create furniture and other objects and send them to our galleries and clients around the world.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Ali: I always wake first and get an hour or so in the morning to myself to run and meditate. When Dan wakes, we go for a coffee on the waterfront near our house where we often get lost in conversation for an hour or so. So much of our thinking and ideas come from these conversations. Our days consist of creative sessions working together on designs for new pieces or client commissions and projects and these sessions often consist of sketching and conversation. There is also a lot of physical production in the studio, making, finishing and packing pieces. We spend a lot of time exploring the streets of Mong Kok, meeting metal workers and makers, finding new materials and hauling them back to our studio. Whenever we can, we leave space for pure experimentation and creating without a need for a particular outcome. Our ideas often start as little experiments but eventually the ideas are used within collections or commissions.

How did your creative journey begin?

Dan: Batten and Kamp is a love story really. We met when we were 18, studying design and architecture and have been partners both romanticly and creatively ever since.

Ali: Dan is from a design innovation background and I am from interior architecture so we both started at the functional end of the creative spectrum and have ever since been moving further and further towards the purely sculptural. Even as we create our more sculptural works a function always sneaks it’s way in, I don’t know if this comes from a place of intent or rather just simply a habitual hang up from our design education.

What are the main themes in your work?

Dan: It’s a hard thing to answer because themes are really something that someone else would see in our work rather than something we would consciously project outwards. In saying that, while analysing your own work is discouraged in our world, we can’t help but spend a lot of our time talking about our work from an outside perspective. If I take a step back and view our work like I would someone else, I’d say the work is about relationships; to each other, to place, between humanity and nature, between comfort and discomfort.

How does your creative process work?

Ali: Hours and hours of conversation. We take an assemblage approach to our process, gathering together and arranging disparate objects and ideas and tweaking them until we are happy with the object in front of us. A lot of our work takes much iteration, both digitally and physically. At the time of writing this we are at 421 render iterations of the pieces for our new collection… what results from the end of this process is deceptively simple.

Having been a creative duo for more than a decade, how have you honed your craft?

Dan: We like to think of it like we just focus on building our universe and then the universe outputs the work. We don’t set briefs and we try not to be too deliberate when we are creating pieces. Rather we are very deliberate about how our lives look and that allows us to be more automatic when it comes to making work. Practically, our work is still mostly founded on skills we learnt at university and we just build on those every year but much more important than that is honing our creative relationship because the rest flows from there.

“Nature is by far the most beautiful artist so it is a pleasure and privilege to use elements of it in our work”

How do you weave nature and flowers into your artwork and process?

Ali: Dan and I are of the opinion that nature is by far the most beautiful artist so it is a pleasure and privilege to use elements of it in our work. We have designed a collection called Odd Balance where we made these precarious, delicate sculptures that hold flowers. They are essentially sculptures made purely to celebrate single flowers. We also use flowers a lot in our styling for the studio, shoots and inspiration for our work. Nature is a key element to all of our work so far so we tend to have it close by.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Ali: Dan and I are explorers by nature and every idea, every book we have read, every memory from our past or future concepts we stumble upon, every conversation, every part of what we see and do gets stored away and used for inspiration in our work.

“Our experience of Hong Kong is that it is a city that invites you in. Our audience here has been really curious and engaged”

How has Hong Kong informed your work?

Ali: Our experience of Hong Kong is that it is a city that invites you in. Our audience here has been really curious and engaged and never made us feel on the outside. This has allowed us to explore mediums, crafts, neighbourhoods and communities and get to know the city and its makers within it. I feel a huge sense of potential here.

How do you create an inspiring workspace?

Ali: We move our space around constantly, arranging and rearranging which allows us to be re-inspired by the works in our studio. We like to have our favourite books around the space with pages open on imagery that suits our mood.

What’s next for Batten & Kamp?

Dan: Our most important solo exhibition to date is coming up in December on Hollywood Road. We were commissioned to create an entirely new collection for Novalis Contemporary Art Design, a Hong Kong and Italy based gallery who represent work by some of the most important figures in the history of design-art. We’ve been working on the collection for nearly two years now and are in the final stages of production right now.

Follow Batten & Kamp creative journey here