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Welcome to the Motel Bodega

Before interior design, I had a 10 year career as a mens fashion designer. I was fortunate enough to travel extensively for work and visited some of the most inspirational stores, restaurants and hotels in the world. Some of my favourites being in American cities. Even before that though, I was always fascinated by the US. Perhaps we watched too many movies growing up but I find it easy to imagine a 90’s teen bedroom with baseball bats on the wall and homemade quilt on the bed. Or a roadside motel lobby with a softly humming ice machine and cheery welcome sign in the window.

I distinctly remember my first experience of New York. It was a University trip when I was 19, and I felt like I had looked through the keyhole on a vintage, ecclectic lifestyle where the walls are clad in teak with pennants and bandanas as decor. I melted into this curated world when I entered Soho celeb hotspot 'What Goes Around Comes Around' on Wooster Street. From there my love affair with Vintage Americana began.

Fast forward a few years and many more trips to the US, this time in Los Angeles. Trying to track down a bottle of Madre Mescal to bring back as a last minute souvenir for my boyfriend. Google maps took me to a Bodega (by dictionary definition: a small grocery shop, especially in a Spanish-speaking neighbourhood) on the edge of Los Feliz and I wasn’t disappointed. A small store with metal bars on the windows, filled to the rafters with every imaginable liquor, cigarette, snack and convenience product you never knew you needed. I had to dust the bottle off in the car and I loved everything about the experience.

Necessity often gives way to the most thought-out designs and the Bodega concept is a well oiled machine. Where I’m from in South Africa you’ll always find makeshift tables set up at busy pedestrian intersections, stocked with a selection of snacks and convenience items as well as home made delicacies. I’m always so impressed at how well they are supported, especially in morning rush hour.

When I thought about how to channel my aesthetic world into a product selling platform, the pop-up convenience store concept was a logical solution. I never wanted a physical space as I find the idea of a shop sitting empty at night such a shame.

The name came to me on a train when I was reminiscing on a whirlwind visit to the Madonna Inn in Saint Luis, California (think Dolly Parton meets Wes Anderson) I walked around like I had woken up in a film. And then I found the gift shop. Needless to say we ended up with heavy suitcases on the way home. Imagine having my own virtual version of that experience? I thought. I want other people to experience the wonder and excitement of all the strange but perfectly curated elements that made up that resort. But without it all being new.

Not new.

New for you.

Through mindful collecting, curating and careful creating, I present to you: artworks hand made with love, and items that were once loved, and should be still.

It’s weird & wonderful.

It’s Motel Bodega.

Our at-home bodega bar, with the Madre Mezcal that started it all.

The Madonna Inn by @juli.buchholz on Instagram

My home studio in Amsterdam, where I run virtual concept store, Motel Bodega.

Artworks and objects collected, created and curated with love by me

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