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Minimalist camper van packs everything you need in 48 square feet

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It sleeps two but can still haul large items

The Vanjoy was designed by architect Michael Hilgers and uses a Fiat Ducato as its base.
All photos courtesy of Michael Hilgers

There are a slew of new camper designs coming out of Europe that showcase innovative ideas on how to pack a lot into a compact space. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a van with its own outdoor movie theater, a $67K camper that is also a boat, and a trailer that can be towed by a tiny electric car. Love campers and trailers? Come join our new community group.

There are so many cool European campers it can be hard to keep track, and some readers are frustrated when they realize we can’t get those campers stateside. It’s true, the latest innovative camper van to come across our desk isn’t available here in the U.S., but we still think it’s worth covering. For many DIYers or van lovers dreaming of their future build, it’s helpful to see any and all inspiration on what van life can look like.

Today’s camper—called Vanjoy—comes from Berlin-based architect and designer Michael Hilgers. Using a Fiat Ducato van as the base, Hilgers took a small van and created a flexible, functional living space. Hilgers is known for his innovative furniture designs, but decided to design Vanjoy out of frustration with his life in Berlin.

The modular design allows for the inner cabinetry to be removed when you need to transport large items.

“Living in Berlin for many years now i see myself and my environment increasingly confronted with typical urban topics: Problems like the progressive limitation of living space, sensory overload, the lack of parking areas and the growing desire for nature and freedom call for new solutions,” says Hilgers.

Creating Vanjoy combined his skills as a designed with his needs as an urban dweller. “Creating a mobile, multi-functional and affordable part-time living space on less than 48 square feet is a pretty exciting challenge.”

According to New Atlas, Hilgers needed a van that could transport material to and from his projects, fit in a Berlin parking lot, and function as a weekend camper. His design uses European birch plywood throughout for a clean, sleek look with plenty of storage. A small kitchen area boasts a mobile gas cooker and stowed-away cooler, while a compact toilet hides behind cabinet doors.

The sleeping area is formed thanks to two Murphy beds.

The multipurpose rear section of the van transforms from a two-person sleeping area into an L-shaped lounge or work space thanks to a pop-up table and fold-out sleeping cushions. The rotating table can be used in different positions, and the bed transforms into sleep mode thanks to two Murphy beds on either side of the van. An outdoor shower and privacy shades round out the amenities.

Hilgers chose a rooftop solar panel and gel battery to power the van off grid, and when the table is stowed the open middle area still works to haul larger items. While he built the van for his own personal use, he told New Atlas he is currently looking for partners to put the design into production. The van in Europe would cost about $46,400, an affordable price for both a new van and the conversion.

Interested in seeing more? Watch the movie, below (warning, it’s in German).

The removable table sits next to an L-shaped lounge.
The camper in work or dining mode.
The camper ready to transport goods.

Vanjoy via Designboom and New Atlas