THE CONVERSION

For the last few years the way vans are used has been evolving. Gone are the days of having an outright camper just for camping, or a work van just for the nine-to-five. As vans become more environmentally friendly, economical, efficient and useable, the way they’re being used is changing too.

It’s fair to say at Stitches + Steel we’ve always kept van life flexible; while the van first and foremost has always been a home away from home and a means to escape it has also had to meet the demands of daily life. As we’ve forged our path it’s become even more important that the van well and truly meets the work/ life/ adventure balance. 

PEOPLE, PLACES, CULTURE, LEARNING ABOUT YOURSELF, THIS IS WHAT TRAVELLING IN A VAN EMBODIES MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE. 

Our solution needed to be adaptable. Monday to Friday it needed to haul boxes to and from the warehouse; at the weekend it had to carry boards and boys; and come Autumn it had to be home, as we spent extended weeks living on the road. It was the varied demands placed on this modern workhorse that we felt had been neglected. 

We hand picked and interrogated leaders in their relative fields: interior designers and furniture makers, yacht rigging specialists as well as sail makers and boat builders. We wanted to shake the notion of the van being ‘pimped.’ Big wardrobes, TV’s, heavy fold-up beds, big cookers, the bulk and weight had to go. 

The reason we use our vans is to get outside, explore and escape. To find the feeling of freedom. This small contemporary moving space needed materials that worked with the environments we find ourselves in. With this focus on traveling light, on utilising outside space, on being outside rather than in, the conversion was born.

A light van is a good van. It’s a very different experience to driving a fully laden one. With saving weight high on the agenda, we set about sourcing materials more often associated with the aviation industry and open ocean yacht racing, disciplines where strength, weight saving, longevity and smart storage were paramount. 

It was a similar story for the hardware. We've worked closely within the sailing industry to develop the pulleys and blocks for the suspended carbon bed. The rope that hoists the double bunk is made from Dyneema. The draw runners are identical to the ones purposed for fire truck appliances, where they house emergency cutting gear and are rated sufficiently.

The false floor is, inherently strong, light, eco friendly and, of course, waterproof. The bolts and hardware are all marine grade stainless steel; the carbon fibre components are all pre-preg and 100% pure.

WE'VE SEARCHED HIGH AND LOW TO FIND THE RIGHT MATERIALS. THEY HAVE BEEN HUNTED DOWN AND PURPOSED FOR THEIR SPECIFIC ROLES, ALL WHILE KEEPING ONE EYE ON THE ENVIRONMENT. 

We measured, mapped and digitised the spaces to create an elaborate network of shapes that make up the interior floor. The outcome is a seamless modular unit, which follows the exact form of the van and fits together effortlessly. The conversion is designed to use the original bolt threads and natural shapes in the chassis to prevent and permanent alterations to the van requiring zero invasive adjustments. 

The bed is suspended from the roof using rigging considered innovative in yachting circles. The carbon fibre and sailcloth double bunk drops by un-cleating a single line. This contemporary solution allows the bed to be stored in the roof in a matter of seconds, keeping bedding stowed discreetly and turning the van back into a practical working vehicle. Making use of every inch of space the drop-down, separate storage units in the false floor provide useful nooks along with canvass and elastic storage solutions on the walls to get the most from the space.

WE'VE SEARCHED TIRELESSLY TO FIND THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO WORK WITH FOR THIS PROJECT. THIS IN TURN HAS LEAD TO US USING THE BEST POSSIBLE MATERIALS, OVERCOMING BIG HURDLES AND ULTIMATELY FINDING INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS. 

Since these early days, driven by those who have jumped on board, the brand and product has grown beyond our humble needs and beginnings. From our studio which leans into the prevailing winds of our South Easterly coordinates, we stay true to our original mantra of functionality and sustainability brought to life in an understated style with a genuine purpose.

Since day one we have taken a pioneering approach to making a better, more understated and useful product, challenging and innovating, seeking alternatives to what has gone before. We’re committed to making informed decisions about our impact on the environment while pushing boundaries to make the best products we can. Our interpretation of realising how these contemporary moving spaces can work to their fullest potential is a big moment for us and we believe our interpretation to be a game-changer, not only pushing the boundaries functionally but perhaps transforming the work, life adventure balance these vehicles can be capable of.