AETHERstream | A Pop-Up On Wheels09/28/11 by: Michael van Vliet
So earlier this year, when we were kicking around places to do a pop-up shop, somebody threw out the idea of using an Airstream. As we’ve mentioned before, we are long time fans of Airstream trailers so the idea struck a particular chord with us. Essentially a pop-up on wheels, the store could tour the country and set up shop virtually anywhere. We would be able to bring our product directly to our customers, whether that be at the base of a mountain in Aspen or in downtown Manhattan. Especially after doing the math of leasing and building-out a physical location for a temporary pop-up, the idea of a reusable mobile store started to make a lot of sense. Excitement for the project quickly grew and before long we were scouring the internet for Airstream listings.
This definitely wasn’t going to be the first Airstream to be re-purposed for commercial use. In fact, we’ve seen countless other companies put their own personal touches on an Airstream before. However, whenever we saw them they always struck us as being a little, well, half-baked. Maybe they replaced the bed with a couch or put in new flooring, but they were never able to really make the space there own. Our vision of the Airstream was a bit more, drastic. We wanted to gut the interior completely and redesign it from the floor up. This was going to be the ultimate guy’s workshop, an adventure lab on wheels, a mobile man cave. To bring this concept to light we teamed up with Paris-based designer Thierry Gaugain who brought the project to a whole new level.
Thierry has spent the last 15 years working side-by-side with Phillippe Starck and by the time we met him had already designed a multitude of interior spaces, appliances, motorcycles, and yachts. When we initially explained the concept to him, he got it right off the bat. He pitched us some ideas and sent over some concept art that truly blew us away. Some of his ideas would eventually have to conform to the confines of reality, but his out of the box thinking inspired us. We had definitely found our designer, now it was time to lock down an Airstream.
We had set our sights on the Airstream PanAmerica. In addition to being one of the largest Airstreams in the fleet, the 34′ toy hauler had a rear hatch that would make for a perfect entrance into the store. Originally we had considered buying an empty shell from Airstream directly, but it turned out it was more cost effective to pick one up used and gut it ourselves. We finally found what we were looking for at a RV lot in Denton, Texas. After meeting with the proprietor, who was everything you’d expect of a Texas RV salesman, we had ourselves a trailer. The next day we hauled it back to Los Angeles where the bulk of the construction was to be done.