There’s a common lament in the North American RV industry that all the cool campers can be found in Europe. And while the U.S. is slowly rolling out more innovative and interesting RVs, it’s true that—as Airstream CEO Bob Wheeler put it—“Europe is about 15 years ahead of us in terms of design.” Love campers and trailers? Come join our community group!
So it’s no surprise, really, that the most innovative camper van we’ve seen in a while just debuted at the biggest camper trade show in the world: Düsseldorf Caravan Salon. The annual massive event showcases just about every type of camper imaginable, from an RV that’s also a boat to a two-bedroom tiny house.
This year at Düsseldorf, the Erwin Hymer Group debuted the VisionVenture concept. Built on a Mercedes chassis, the VisionVenture is a forward-thinking camper that looks more like a high-end apartment than a striped-down adventure rig.
To accomplish this, the camper’s interior uses warm bamboo, gray felt, and leather, mixing woods with other materials to add interest. The living area is located in the rear with two white sofas and a center dining table that folds down below the passenger-side bench. The stand-out feature of the living room is the panoramic rear window and large side windows. Fold out the rear door, drop a lower gate and the van boasts its own rear deck—complete with slide-out electric grill.
It’s an impressive lounge area, and the kitchen goes even further with a flush cooktop, sink, refrigerator, and ample storage. The styling is fresh too, with modular, deck-like wall paneling that works to hang plants or cooking equipment as needed. Integrated next to the kitchen is a compact slate-colored staircase—reminiscent of tiny house design—that boasts storage, motion-activated lighting, and access to an inflatable pop-up sleeping area. The upstairs bed sleeps two and takes advantage of big views through the rear roll-up window.
As if the lounge, rear tailgate, and sleeping quarters weren’t innovative enough, Hymer also rethinks the camper van bathroom. Transforming bathrooms are a growing trend, and the VisionVenture van boasts a rolling wall and rotating vanity sink to create a separate rain shower that’s removed from the sink and toilet. A laptop work station in the front of the cab, four-wheel-drive, and roof-mounted solar round out the long list of amenities.
Like other concept campers, the VisionVenture isn’t in production and you won’t be able to buy it (even in Europe) any time soon. But its design could show where campers are headed.
First, the rear lounge area and the pull-out grill both capitalize on everything #VanLife is about: enjoying the outdoors. Second, it’s fun to see how tiny house stairs could be incorporated into van life, similar to the cozy bed nooks in this home-like camper. And lastly, the interior design of the van feels fresh—miles away from the tired RV color schemes and boring design so prevalent in the U.S. Light, airy, and with plenty of style, if this is the future of #VanLife, we’re here for it.