We stumbled upon this awesome Instagram account that made us discover the van life community in Berlin. To our great surprise, this European city offers a broad selection of unique vans and adventure mobiles, you’ll even find self-sustainable van communities! We were excited to have a chat with Linnart and share his story!
Tell us a little about yourself & your project
My name is Linnart and I’ve lived in Berlin for almost a decade. My studies were already focused on photography and I felt particularly drawn to analog medium format technology in the square format. The project started when I bought my own van. Berlin, having a large van community, made it easy for me to instantly develop an eye to photograph them. I found it exciting to see how different each van looked, but above all I loved the individuality each van owner brought to each van. Short after I went out and started taking photos (partly analog, partly with iPhone) of all the vans in Berlin. From Vanagons, custom campers, all road trucks and so on… I thought I would eventually photograph all the vans in Berlin at first, but there are always new ones emerging throughout the city.
Describe the van life movement in Berlin, & why you feel it’s the way it is?
I grew up in a small town East of Germany filled with forests that were home to rabbits and deer, and mushroom picking in autumn was how we spent our afternoons. It’s an infinite nature haven and pretty much the opposite of Berlin.
In 2009, I founded a Design Studio with friends (Studio GOOD | www.studio-good.de). Since then life has for the most part been amazing but full of intensive work. This hectic way of life is common in Berlin, and so the weekend getaways were much needed in order to recharge the batteries. My favorite places to go camping up North are by the Baltic or North Sea, where I enjoy hiking in the mountains of Saxony. The Ore Mountains, Saxon mountains, Switzerland National Park or the Alps in Bavaria are also great to explore. It’s amusing to see an armada of vans setting out on a Friday evening, only to return to Berlin on Sunday night once again. There are many smaller areas in Berlin where dozens of mobile homes or camper vans remain permanently. These small, self-sufficient villages in the middle of the metropolis, are amongst other things which are creating a progressive movement to the gentrification of alternative districts (Kreuzberg, Neukolln etc).
Can you describe your van and tell us why is it perfect for you?
I have a 1999 Volkswagen Multivan T4 2.5. After a long search, I decided to go for a spacious van that would give me the flexibility to leave on road trips with friends, or be cozy enough to spend some alone time by a lake. The second criteria necessary in choosing the perfect van for me was that In winter I’m always on the lookout for good snow conditions to go snowboarding. Buying a winterproof van with an independent heating system allowing me to conveniently travel to the Alps, Austria or Switzerland was a must.
Do you live in your van? If no, do you plan on one day?
I don’t live in my van however I do see this happening in the near future. I use it regularly for weekend trips and longer trips outside of Berlin for the moment. A good friend of mine Alex is a great inspiration of living the nomad life. He has been living in his van and travelling the world for almost a year in his Volkswagen T2 Bulli. He is presently in South America and everyone should follow his adventures for inspiration through his Instagram account.
To me, freedom especially means independence. It would be my dream to go on a trip for one or two years, simultaneously investing in creative work ideas as I go along. The likelihood of me returning to Berlin once I leave wouldn’t be very high 😉
What is your top 10 vans you photographed?
In the last year, I’ve photographed around 500 vans. It’s not easy to make a selection but here are my ten favourites from the last year:
Volkswagen T3 Vanagon Syncro 4×4 Poptop
Unimog 4×4 Custom
Mercedes 508D Custom
Volkswagen LT28 Hightop
Ford Transit Camper
Renault Estafette Mini Camper
Fiat Talento Camper Mini Camper
Mercedes-Benz Hymer Mobil Camper
Volkswagen T3 Vanagon Poptop
Mercedes 508D Custom