By the Fire
Outdoor Living, Equipment and Modern Camping
The motivation to be in the outdoors is different and unique for each and every one of us. Perhaps it’s a yearning for discovery and exploration, or an underlying evolutionary characteristic that connects us to the outside. But collectively, and pragmatically, for many of us the outdoors are an escape from the lives we live in cities.
As humans, our relationships with the phenomena of the natural world can take many forms, but one could argue that we have become too disconnected with nature.
"Nature is trying hard to help us succeed, but nature is not dependent on us. We are not the only experiment"
- Buckminster Fuller
For HEIMPLANET the enjoyment and appreciation of nature through modern camping can best be understood through the concept of "outdoor living". To get a deeper insight into the values and principles behind HEIMPLANET Chris Danforth spoke to co-founder Stefan Clauss, who reminds us of the greatness of nature.
Hi Stefan. Can you remember some of your first or most formative outdoor experiences?
I guess it started with a tent that I saw displayed in a store when I was a child. My parents bought it for me, and that night I slept in the garden with my best friend. It felt like a real adventure. That was the first time I slept in a tent.
Around the age of 13 or 14, we had a lake around the corner from my home. In the summertime, I rode my bike to the lake after school, my friends and I went swimming, and just played around. That was my summer spot. When we were around the age of 16, we started camping there on the weekends. It was the first time we were on our own with no parents. We started making campfires, and BBQs. Going there was very free. It was very beautiful.
When did you start thinking about design, products or equipment and the design that goes into them?
When I started skateboarding as a teenager, it was the first time that I was able to be part of a culture, and the products that were associated with it. I paid attention to details, and I was really interested in choosing my own trucks, and bearings, and picking the parts I wanted. It was the first time I was making choices, learning about my own tastes, and picking a setup that I felt good about.
When I bought a new Backpack had to buy for school, it was the same: I started doing a lot of research and comparing different backpacks. Maybe "obsessed" is a bit exaggerated, but I really invested a lot of time in these decisions. Nothing was random.
It has remained that way ever since.
So you have a basic appreciation for nature, which comes from your childhood at the lake, and you have this special attitude towards products. When did these two things come together to develop the idea for the first tent? HEIMPLANET tent?
Once when I was on a surf trip in Portugal, I was sitting on the water, and there was a thunderstorm approaching. The waves were perfect, but there were these dark clouds in the sky. It felt like surfing on a different planet. I was so overwhelmed by the experience. I just had this feeling that there is nothing bigger or greater than nature, what it can offer, or how it can make you feel. It was a moment that opened my eyes. That was the spark.
So on that trip, we were traveling along the coast, setting up a tent at a different spot on the beach every night. We were unsatisfied with the tent, and one night it started to rain when we were setting up the tent, and we got wet. We were sticking these poles together, and hating it. So we started to joke around, and think about the tent of the future. Like if you can press a button and the tent is set up. “Welcome home”. So we started talking about it.
The geodesic structure we use is inspired by Buckminster Fuller, who was just a crazy guy. He used the term "Spaceship Earth". He said that we are all in a boat, on this planet travelling through space, and that's all we have. If you translate "Planet Earth", it means home planet in German. If you take the short version Heim, it refers more to a house, a place where you live. So the idea was to create a Tent that is a little home that you can travel with. We wanted to give people that feeling of home and shelter when they are out and about.
What does the name HEIMPLANET for you?
There is a phenomenon called the overview effect. It's a feeling that astronauts describe, it's a kind of feeling that I experienced while surfing during the storm. Astronauts describe the feeling of seeing the planet as a whole and being overwhelmed, and they realise how fragile the Earth is. This feeling creates a sense of urgency to protect the planet. So that was a really interesting starting point for a concept or a feeling for an outdoor brand.
What are the main references that have influenced HEIMPLANET 's products?
I'm fascinated by Japanese culture in general, especially their attention to detail and how picky they are. When I came to Japan and went camping, they had this mentality and it was the first time I saw these real outdoor living spaces. The whole set-up was much more modern and thoughtful than Western camping. They had a little outdoor kitchen. Nicely decorated. They made sure they had the right lighting. Everything fitted together.
This was kind of the blueprint. I spent a lot of time analyzing what makes this so great. Then getting really into the gear, and researching. I really considered the way you interact with a product. Then putting this all together. But I realized that this Japanese culture in general is a key to what HEIMPLANET represents, and the experience that we want to create. In the same way that we appreciate nature, we want to create a camping experience that is comfortable and makes you feel good.
How would you sum up the nature of camping at HEIMPLANET when you think about it all?
First, we want to be as embedded in nature as possible. We want to get away from city infrastructure. It’s important that the surroundings provide a natural experience.
Second, we want to create a real outdoor living space that feels modern. Once you create a sheltered outdoor space, then you can really start to enjoy it.
Third, I love to create rituals out of small moments. Making coffee or cooking. It becomes special when you take your time. When I go outdoors and go camping, there are only two things I need to take care of. One is breakfast, and one is dinner. Everything in between flows. There is no other place that calms me down so fast. These rituals could be anything, for example creating your own flies for fishing.
Finally, camping can absolutely be an elevated experience. That is important. You can create these really special moments. This gave us the idea for these kits we have in our office, so we created a carefully selected assortment of items and accessories that help you truly enjoy your time.
What do the kits contain? How do they express the HEIMPLANET philosophy expressed?
We have four boxes that contain everything you need for a truly luxurious, upscale outdoor experience. Ultimately, it's up to you what kind of experience you want to have. We have chosen these products because when you use them and handle them, you feel a certain sense of pleasure. That's the purpose of good design. It's a pleasure to look at and to use. The products in HPT Selected reflect this idea.
Apart from the tent itself, a Tarp a decisive factor. It creates a protected space, even if it rains all day, you are protected. That is number one.
Paying some attention to having a nice kitchen, like a nice stove, nice pots, and pans, those things are important.
Lighting is crucial, so you have a nice atmosphere at night. Or even portable heaters that work with petroleum. They are brilliant, especially in places where you cannot create a campfire.
This article was written in preparation for the Season Opening 2022, which will take place in May this year - impressions of the Season Opening will of course follow here!
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