“I love it when people tell me I can’t do something”
Interview with MOAM's Martijn Nekoui
Some might say he’s a difficult character, but somehow he manages to achieve things that others don’t. Martijn Nekoui (30) graduated at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute with his project MOAM, a platform for young creative talent in the Netherlands. Now, five years later, it’s time for a book. MOAM – contemporary fashion & arts in amsterdam is an overview of some of the greatest fashion designers and photographers the Netherlands has to offer.
Why did you want to make this book?
In the past years we were able to create the most exciting projects with big names in different industries in the Netherlands. All these projects were quite big, but they were also very transient. That speed and power fits me and MOAM, but along the way we’ve gathered some amazing content of which I think it deserves to be seen permanently. I thought it would be nice to bundle all that content into a magazine. But with me, a magazine quickly becomes a big magazine and that big magazine quickly becomes a book. Now we’re making a book with MENDO and we feature around 120 names from the Dutch creative industry with old work and new work exclusively made for the book.
‘When everyone says it’s a 10, it’s usually a 7 for me.’
‘When everyone says it’s a 10, it’s usually a 7 for me.’
Martijn Nekoui, MOAM
With so much content made and being made, how do you decide what eventually makes the book?
First and foremost, my taste doesn’t reach any further than complete adoration of Britney Spears, so if it comes to that, I’m probably the last one to decide. But I can easily step over my own taste and look at what makes the work special. Whether it’s colorful and bombastic Maarten Spruyt, or minimalistic and clean Anne Claire de Breij, I can lose myself in both. To me, it’s important that an artist has his or her own style. That’s what what makes it interesting, regardless of my own taste. It’s actually what makes the book interesting as well. With so many names, big and small, you have so many different signatures, but they all represent the Dutch creative industry.
Talking about that Dutch industry, do you see a Dutch identity in the work?
Actually, I don’t think there is a Dutch identity and that’s what’s great about it. You can put Daily Paper next to Iris van Herpen, or Schuller de Waal next to Tess van Zalinge and David Laport. Or look at brands like LoveStories, Filling Pieces and G-Star RAW, that’s all Dutch!
In Paris everything’s couture, in Milan everything’s tailoring, London has all the street brands, but Amsterdam has it all and it can all exist next to each other and inspire each other. This book will show the amount of talent our country has and hopefully someone who is a big fan of Erwin Olaf will get introduced to Boris Lutters, or a Claes Iversen fan will be introduced to The New Originals.
Somehow, MOAM has managed to bring all these names together, and you’ve been doing this for quite a while now. How did you manage to do that?
I love it when people tell me I can’t do something, because it motivates me to prove them wrong. When I just started MOAM I wanted Viktor & Rolf for my exhibition but their team kept rejecting me. Until I saw them walking their dog one day and I dropped everything to beg them to join. They told me: “First, calm down, because it looks like you’re having a seizure” and eventually they were part of the exhibition.
People might think that it’s because these artists and companies do it for me, but I think they just like MOAM. MOAM has built a track record over the past few years, working with the biggest names and delivering quality work. So it does get a little easier every time. I just want the best and highest level possible and I try my best to achieve that.
Do you think MOAM could work in another country?
I hope so. I would see it as a challenge to build something from scratch in a city like London, which to me has a similar atmosphere with a bigger magnitude. But right now I feel like I have to stay here. We’re currently working with the biggest names on exciting new projects. A few years ago I would do an event with a small budget, now I work with top tier brands which brings a lot of exciting new challenges.
One of which is MENDO, how’s the collaboration working so far?
Surprisingly good. People might say I have a difficult character, and when people have been saying it for ten years there might be some truth in it. But the collaboration with MENDO works very well because we both respect each other and each other’s qualities.
MENDO has proven itself with their bookstore and publishing and we have proven ourselves with the different projects that we’ve done with MOAM. Of course, there are some strong characters involved, but up until now, we’re very much on the same page. It almost makes me wonder if I’m not being to easy on you guys.
Yeah! When everyone says it’s a 10, it’s usually a 7 for me. I always want more, faster and better. But like I said, with MENDO everything’s going great so far. *Knocks on wood.*
Back to the book, could you give us an idea of what to expect?
Well, there is nothing to expect really. The majority of the content in the book is based on collaborations and ideas that normally would have never happened. What’s nice about the book is that it shows such a wide palette of Dutch talent, it can inspire you in more than just one way. A shoot with bodypaint in the woods can be followed by a studio shoot with pop art shapes.
If you include models, stylists, makeup artists, photographers, designers, locations and producers there could easily be 600 people that have worked on this book for the love of creating. All for the creative industry of the Netherlands. That’s why I want it to be great and that’s what MOAM stands for as well. To me, MOAM is still a playground where I can exceed limits and try new things, a couple of times a year. We can do a scavenger hunt in Artis zoo, a club night in Paradiso, a fancy fashion show or a book with great content. Whatever I do, I want it to be of the highest quality possible. So in terms of expectations for the book, I hope it will exceed everyone’s expectations.
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