#arkitaipmuse Milou Neelen
In our new series, we'd like to introduce you to the inspiring women that surround us. Each month, we'll take you on a trip into one of our muse's universe. Please welcome our first guest: Milou Neelen from Hôtel Magique.
Interviewed by arkitaip co-founder Lea Wieser
Who said you can't make real friend over WhatsApp? Well, our friendship with Milou is the living proof that you can!
Milou and I 'met' about one year ago: I contacted her via email after I stumbled upon her beautiful art in a pop-up in East London. What I loved about her work was the nostalgic aesthetic and the complex simplicity that I also saw represented in arkitaip. So I decided to get in touch. A couple of months later, Milou and I found ourselves not only knee-deep in a pandemic but also successfully launching the second edition of a very magique collaboration ...
Can you give us a little intro into your universe?
I started out as a freelancer where I worked on a variety of projects: from designing patterns for fashion brands and graphic design to illustrating for fashion magazines. During a trip to Portland I stumbled upon this beautiful, golden Japanese Momi paper.
I brought it back home and used it as a canvas for a painting for my living room. My idea was to give it a hotel-vibe, so I started combining random words with the word 'hotel' - and 'Hôtel Magique' won.
Lea Wieser: You know what's funny? I feel like I've known you forever, although we've never met in person!
Milou Neelen: Haha same! I can't believe that it's already been more than a year since we first spoke - and it was chill since the very first minute. Every time I hang up the phone, I go back to my desk with tons of fresh ideas ... you're mega hands-on and think in opportunities which I find super inspiring, so I'm very happy and grateful that our paths 'crossed'! What I love most is that we can create magique together even though we live on different continents.
Whilst creating this painting 'magique' quotes came to my mind, such as 'You are Magique' or 'Endless Magique' - and I started to incorporate these quotes into my artwork. I somehow could see them work well as greeting cards and art prints so I created some trial prints.
What inspires you to create magique?
Hôtel Magique gave me a platform to play around with my designs, exploring different materials, techniques while challenging myself to try out new things. And that's why I love collaborations too: I love the challenge of incorporating another designer's idea or a brand's identity into my work to find the perfect balance between the two, resulting in a new piece of art.
What makes your day magique?
Bali is my adopted home. Living in nature without the rush of the city definitely makes my days magique: you wake up to a bright, colorful sunrise. Every morning, we take our dogs for a walk on the beach. Sometimes, we go for a dip in the ocean before I work from home where my view is filled with palm trees and the dogs playing.
How important is sustainability in your everyday life?
I've become even more aware of the importance of sustainability since living in Bali. Our neighbours still burn their trash and during the rainy season, the beaches and streams are filled with garbage which is as in your face as it gets when it comes to the importance of sustainability and how much we really need to change our way of working, shopping, living.
Any eco-friendly life hacks you could share with us?
I think the most important thing is that we need to change our way of thinking. We have to become more aware of how lucky we are with this abundance of, well, everything. Including the abundance of sustainable options, delicious meat replacements, sustainable brands, ... make less selfish choices and be more grateful!
Agreed! Your go-to vegetarian dish?
My everyday breakfast in Bali: a dragonfruit smoothie bowl. Add big chunks of frozen dragonfruit and a banana to a blender, add a splash of almond or oat milk and some toppings. I love adding kiwi, roasted coconut flakes and granola to mine.
Which pieces are on your arkitaip-wishlist?
The Ruffled Casita pillowcases and sheets are on top of my wishlist! And The Gerda Slip Dress - very Bali-proof. And I love The Johana Blouse, very French. Oh, and of course the scarfs from our collaborations - The Shell & The Swirls-scarf are my faves!