I’ve said it many times before, but American camper design is often too drab and too boring. Most of the time, you get to choose between one cube and another and if you’re lucky, the swoops might be different. Other countries seem to have so much fun. One example is a new collaboration between Japanese RV manufacturer Kworks and housing building material conglomerate Lixil. Together, the two companies made the Kworks Mio Space Trailer, a camper that’s also an extra bedroom of your home and it’s pretty awesome.
To me, one of the biggest faults with campers today is that many floorplans make you feel like you’re cocooned in your camping unit. Small windows, big furniture, and clutter can make a 30-footer feel much smaller. So, I love to see designs that make a camper feel more like open rooms of a home or better, open up to let the outside in. The Kworks Mio Space Trailer seems to have understood the assignment and I think it lives up to the promise of being both an extra bedroom and a camper at the same time.
Kworks and Lixil?
Right, so neither of the companies involved in this build are known brands in America. While I could not find a founding date for Kworks, the company appears to be a newer face in the Japanese camping space. The company’s Representative Director Isao Kuroda, says he spent his younger years motorcycle racing. Kuroda says he participated in the Suzuka Endurance Road Race many times and while he became proficient at racing, those skills didn’t really translate to a daily job outside of racing.
So, when physical strain and injuries took him out of the motorcycle racing saddle, Kuroda became a car salesman. But, in a case of poor timing, this all happened at the collapse of Japan’s bubble economy, which left Kuroda feeling burned out, from Kworks’ website:
When I think about it, I spent 10 years doing what I wanted as much as I wanted, but in the end, it was just my own joys, angers, and sorrows, and I needed the support of so many people to continue racing. I didn’t really realize that I was being put to good use.
During all of this, Kuroda discovered campers and realized that transport vehicles had far more potential than just carrying cars. Kuroda soon wanted to get people off of motorcycles and into campers. After obsessing over campers for some time, Kuroda decided to start his own company and build his own campers by hand. Kuroda says he and his team have been working hard not just to create handcrafted campers, but to also make sure they’re quality spaces designed to last longer than 10 years.
Kworks campers are also built to be safe. When the Kworks team saw a poor gap in their design, they sealed it up. When they saw that sharp edge on a piece of furniture could injure a child, they rounded it out. Today, Kworks builds campers by hand out of vans of various sizes and also offers Trail Works towables. Like other Japanese camper brands, Kworks builds units that aren’t just places to have fun but also places you can escape in during a time of natural disaster.
The other company involved is Lixil, a conglomerate of water and housing products manufacturers with a goal of making better homes for everyone. The company was formed in 2011 when building materials supplier Tostem Corp., bathroom supplier INAX, kitchen supplier Sunwave, fence manufacturer Toyo Exterior, and skyscraper material supplier Shin Nikkei merged together. Of the two companies, Lixil is the one with global reach. In 2011, Lixil purchased Italian building envelope constructor Permasteelisa. In 2013, Lixil purchased American Standard Brands, makers of toilets and faucets you’ve almost certainly used before.
The Mio Space Trailer
According to Lixil, its companies have built housing products for years. Most of them were made to enrich the experience of being at home. However, Lixil has taken note that, today, more people are trying to connect their homes to the outdoors. Others are hitting the road and are taking their homes with them on camping trips. In recent years, Lixil’s brands have been creating products that could be used indoors and outdoors. Lixil says there’s a demand for a mobile space that could be used every day of the year.
To realize this goal, Lixil partnered up with Kworks to create a mobile living space that could be an exterior extension of your home and also a camping trailer when you’re on the move. Lixil says the partnership is based on a licensing agreement where Lixil provides the design concept while Kworks builds and sells the resulting trailer. So, what you’re looking at here is a trailer designed by housing materials providers and built by hand by a camper producer.
The two companies say that the Kworks Mio Space Trailer combines mobility with variability and design. I’ll just drop the blurb in there:
Utilizing KWORKS’s camping trailer production technology, it is lightweight and compact, taking into consideration Japan’s road and residential site conditions. The design provides “mobility” that allows you to carry it wherever you want to spend your time. Taking advantage of LIXIL’s knowledge as a housing equipment manufacturer, we have created a “variable” interior that can be changed freely depending on the scene, while keeping the necessary minimum equipment, and a sense of openness inspired by its use in homes. By adding a certain opening and a “design” that harmonizes with the home, we have created a product with value different from conventional camping trailers. You can enjoy a life that suits a variety of lifestyles, such as using it as part of your home in your daily life and using it as a hobby space during outdoor activities.
Kworks and Lixil don’t go deep into what we’re looking at here. The trailer, like many Japanese campers, uses a lot of wood inside and out. At least to my eye, it doesn’t seem overdone and the wood probably makes the trailer seem pretty cozy. Up at the front of the trailer is a small galley kitchen featuring what looks like an induction stove.
My favorite part about the unit is the fact that the back wall lowers and turns into a deck. I could totally see someone parking this in their backyard and enjoying a summer day kicking back in and around the Kworks Mio Space trailer.
At the same time, this is the kind of camper that would turn heads at a campground. It’s minimalist, but also pretty loud.
Sadly, neither company has determined the specs for the trailer yet. We don’t know anything about tanks, weight, or the kind of bedding the trailers will have. Lixil just says it’ll have a flexible interior. You’d think, then, that this is just a pointless concept trailer. However, Lixil and Kworks plan to put the trailer into production in 2024. Neither company has announced pricing, but say that for now, deliveries will be limited to Japan.
That’s a shame because so long as this camper has a low enough price and decent amenities, I could see people picking these up in America. I know I’d love to spend a weekend in one.
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