Airstream Goes Posh with Land Yacht Prototype

Mauro Micheli has earned international renown over the last two decades as a designer of multimillion-dollar super-yachts.

AirstreamLogoHis elegant designs for the Italian Riva line have reinvigorated a brand that has catered to celebrities such as George Clooney and Sean Connery.

One of his latest projects applies his modernist aesthetic and taste for luxurious materials to a “more prosaic pleasure craft”: the camper trailer, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The RV industry is bouncing back following the recession, partly due to an increase in demand for live-aboard vehicles with high-design interiors.

As in many industries, it’s the luxury end of the RV world that is driving the recovery, industry executives and analysts report. But beyond the posh six- and seven-figure bus-like motor coaches, the high-design strategy has also started to infiltrate the market for the more moderately priced travel trailers.

Micheli’s design for the posh, 28-foot “Land Yacht” trailer, unveiled at the end of 2012, was commissioned by Airstream which is aggressively repositioning its line of signature aluminum trailers to appeal to affluent, style-conscious adventurers.

The Land Yacht’s floors are covered in contrasting bands of teak and white wood, an understated pattern seen in some Riva yachts. Expanses of blond-wood cabinetry, with a bare minimum of hardware are accented by LED lighting.

Many interior elements can be hidden from view: The sink and stove can be covered by a folding counter, a two-way mirror hides the television, and a table in the front of the trailer rests on a telescoping pedestal that drops down to allow for more seating or sleeping space.

Bruce Bannister, Airstream’s vice president for product development, says the Land Yacht concept grew out of discussions with dealers about a new, top-of-the line model.

“References to yachts kept coming up,” he says.

The interior of an Airstream Land Yacht concept.

The interior of an Airstream Land Yacht concept.

Airstream won’t say if it is ready to build the new Land Yacht, the Wall Street Journal reports.

But in 2011, the company started showing a prototype design for a model called the Sterling, the latest in a series of Airstreams with interiors designed by Sausalito, California, industrial designer and architect Christopher C. Deam, a design-industry luminary who has worked with companies such as furniture maker Herman Miller and retailers Design Within Reach and Target.

The Sterling went into production last year with bright aluminum walls on the inside (traditional Airstreams have floor-to-ceiling paneling), stainless-steel appliances, and brightly colored flooring in either “Arctic Dijon” green or “obsidian violet.”

Big windows in the front offer a wide view of the outdoors, a feature seen in Deam’s house designs.

Airstream sales rose 15 percent in 2012 compared with 2011, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. of Grand Rapids, Michigan, which tracks RV-industry data.

Airstream reports adding staff at its Jackson Center, Ohio, factory to boost production of trailers that list for $80,000 or more—two to three times the average price of a mainstream camping trailer.

One of the company’s hottest products is a diesel-powered vehicle called the Interstate that lists for as much as $145,000 and is built on the chassis of a Mercedes-Benz commercial van.

The Sterling—and the Land Yacht, if it’s built—aren’t likely to be high-volume sellers, says Airstream CEO Bob Wheeler. What the adventurous trailers do is raise awareness in the design community, and in magazines such as Dwell or Architectural Digest, sending the message that Airstream isn’t just a vintage brand.

In addition to Mr. Deam, Airstream has designed trailers with Victorinox, the Swiss Army knife company and Quiksilver, a surfing and snow-sports clothing firm.

Land Yacht front lounge.

Land Yacht front lounge.

Details

Airstream

Airstream, maker of the iconic “silver bullet” travel trailer, is the oldest recreational vehicle manufacturer in North America.

Following founder Wally Byam’s credo, “Let’s not make changes, let’s only make improvements” Airstream has remained a timeless classic.

A division of Thor Industries, Airstream is based in Jackson Center, Ohio.

Address: 419 West Pike Street, P.O. Box 629, Jackson Center, OH 45334-0629

Phone: (877) 596-6111

Website: airstream.com

Worth Pondering…

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.

—Edgar Allan Poe

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