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Milou Neelen

“The sound of the sea is the ultimate wellness sound.”

with Milou Neelen
from Hôtel Magique



Saasha Burns



Wake up. No thank you. These two typographic prints first drew us into the world of Hôtel Magique and now proudly sit side by side in our Byron Bay abode. It is Milou Neelen’s playfulness and sense of holiday nostalgia that inspired us to work with the Dutch artist, who recently moved to the Indonesian island of Bali. Evocative of an endless summer, her retro geometric print Pool Lines is featured on our soon to be released Holiday 20 Duet, and is set to have you dreaming of long days in the sun. Conscious of sustainable practices and a slower way of living, we caught up with Milou to hear more about her morning wellness rituals, her creative process, and how she stays grounded on island time.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bali, Indonesia

I began my career as a freelance illustrator; commissioning works for international fashion journals ELLE, VOGUE and L’Officiel. During an inspiration trip to the United States, I stumbled upon an incredible piece of Japanese golden momi paper. I wanted to use the paper, which was almost fabric-like, to create an artwork that brought a hotel vibe into my home. The piece read: ‘Hôtel Magique — 8th Avenue & 51st — Open crazy late’, and Hôtel Magique was born.

For the HOLIDAY 20 Duet, we started with the thought: ‘a splash of holiday’. Sam and Saasha love the Pool Lines artwork, so I used pieces of that print and experimented with the layout to create a sophisticated, but fun, holiday design. I am inspired by the thoughtful aesthetic of BEAR, both as a brand, and a way of living.

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I always wanted to move abroad. I love Amsterdam, it’s fun, creative and buzzing, but cold most of the time. My boyfriend was born and raised in Indonesia, and Bali felt like the perfect place for both of us. We did a six month trial before I cleared out my apartment and studio in Amsterdam. We’ve now been living here for almost three years.

I like to live locally, where you are more aware of your surroundings. It’s made me more appreciative, and helped me realise that I shouldn’t take things for granted. In Amsterdam, everything I needed was available within walking distance. Here, I prefer to be more aware of what we buy and how we use it.

We recently stayed at an amazing artist home in Bali. The owner was so welcoming and the place had the most gorgeous vegetable garden and little nooks. I could completely relax and recharge. For me, it’s important to clear my head and make space for new ideas when I start a new creative process.

Originality lies in challenging myself. If I use thin pencils for a while, I put these aside and only go for thick, heavy brushes. This year I created a lot of clean, abstract work, so now I am planning on going more messy and textured. Breaking out of my comfort zone keeps me focused on creating original work.

The best way to wake up is a morning walk on the beach with our dogs. The sound of the sea is the ultimate wellness sound. We will be spending the holidays in Bali; there is still so much exploring to do, so many surrounding islands to visit. Even though we live here, every day feels like a holiday.

I love working with brands to create new work; diving into different perspectives and creating something together. I love the challenge.

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