Design Tiny Homes Stealthy, Modern Van Conversion Is One Designer's Mobile Home & Office (Video) By Kimberley Mok Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who covered architecture and the arts for Treehugger starting in 2007. our editorial process Twitter Twitter Kimberley Mok Updated October 12, 2018 ©. Michael Hilgers Share Twitter Pinterest Email Design Tiny Homes Architecture Interior Design Green Design Urban Design This furniture designer's stealth van conversion has been created as a "test lab" for mobile, "democratic" small space design. Converting a van into a tiny home on wheels is generally a do-it-yourself affair, with results varying from the all-out impressive renovation to more basic, affordable versions. But what happens when a furniture designer decides to take up such a project? Based out of Germany, Michael Hilgers (featured previously for his space-saving furniture designs) created his own mobile home and office out of a standard Fiat Ducato van. Here's a quick tour (it's in German but that's where YouTube's auto-translation tool can come in): © Michael Hilgers © Michael Hilgers As Hilgers explains, he was prompted to undertake what he is calling the Vanjoy project because he couldn't find anything that suited him: To be honest, I just needed a new car and after some unsuccessful market research I decided to build the van of my dreams by myself because there was absolutely no product on the market which could fulfill my really simple needs. I wanted a compact van to transport material I need to create prototypes. I needed a standard car which is compact enough for parking spaces in Berlin and I loved the idea of having a simple minimalist camper van. So rather than buying three cars, I created this hybrid solution. It's quite a conversion, needless to say. From the outside, it looks like any regular van. Inside, there's basically two zones: a 'wet' zone for cooking and getting ready in the morning, and a leisure zone that combines sleeping, sitting, dining and working. © Michael Hilgers The cabinetry was made with European birch plywood; the kitchen includes a small gas stove and a cooler that's accessible once you open the cabinet underneath the sink. There's oodles of storage, even under the floor; there's a hidden dry toilet and even an outdoor shower feature. © Michael Hilgers The leisure/work/sleeping zone has a double-configuration, L-shaped upholstered bench seating that can be transformed into a double bed with flip-down supports, and a swivel table. However, components like the rear benches and table are also removable here, to make space for hauling larger things. Most of the time, Hilgers uses the van as a way to visit clients comfortably while on the go, or transporting things, but he now also has the option to live in his own tiny home while travelling further afield. © Michael Hilgers © Michael Hilgers © Michael Hilgers © Michael Hilgers © Michael Hilgers © Michael Hilgers © Michael Hilgers In order to realize the 4.5-square-metre (48.43 square feet) project, Hilgers made a lot of hand-drawn sketches and 3D drawings on the computer, before moving onto making stencils and mock-ups, and then finally building it out. Instead of using glue, he used form-locking connections instead. Certified recyclable foam made from synthetic rubber was used for the insulation; for an autonomous power supply, the van is equipped with a rooftop solar panel and a gel battery. © Michael Hilgers It's an impressive design that Hilgers calls a "multifunctional travel tool" and now hopes to offer to others, potentially built out in other vehicle brands; he's currently looking for partners to collaborate on a commercial version of the Vanjoy that's sleek but affordable: As I made the prototype by myself the costs were manageable. The biggest part of course was the van itself and then I just needed some plywood, a lot of screws, some technical stuff and a lot of time. For a possible serial production my target is to create a 'democratic camper van.' The average price Germans spend for a standard RV is approx. €72,000 (USD $83,470). My target is to offer the final Vanjoy for less than €40,000 (USD $46,253). To find out more, visit Michael Hilgers, Instagram, Facebook and Vanjoy.