Trailer Flash

RV culture goes metro

Dawn Stover

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When Brian Ogan escapes from the Bay Area to Baja or Death Valley, he wants solitude and a comfortable bed. No sleeping pad for him. Instead, the 36-year-old interior designer travels in his Tin Inn, a 35-foot Airstream motor home he remodeled with chic European furniture and appliances. “I love being able to get away,” says Ogan, who offers Airstream customizations through his Berkeley firm, “but without compromising the comfort and design I’m used to.”

Like station wagons and Tony Bennett, RVs are being reinterpreted for a new generation. Ogan’s $230,000 ride sits atop an emerging category of RVs that appeal to urbanites who are far more design-conscious than the senior snowbirds driving big white boxes from hookup to hookup. Over the past three years, Airstream has rolled out five models in its new line of International CCD trailers. The exteriors are classic Airstream, round and silvery. But the interiors—by San Francisco architect and designer Christopher C. Deam—feature geometric furniture and backlit translucent plastic. Internationals make up 40 percent of Airstream’s trailer sales, and the average buyer is in his late thirties to early forties. “They’ve totally transformed our company and industry,” says marketing director Tim Champ.

Smaller, 1940s-inspired “teardrop trailers” are also seeing a resurgence. Light enough to be towed behind a midsize car, teardrops, which are made by a host of independent builders, house amenities like queen-size beds and entertainment centers inside swoopy aluminum shells that look like U-Hauls designed by Frank Gehry. Whether you go big or small, “traveling in style” never rang so true.

Outside the White Box
The Ultimate RV
Want to go custom? Brian Ogan will retrofit your old Airstream, starting at $60,000 for a smaller trailer. Contact him at the Magazine, his modern-furniture store in Berkeley, California.

Silver Palaces
Airstream’s International CCD travel trailers come in five sizes, from 16 to 28 feet long. Airstreams are about twice as expensive as other trailers, but they’re built to last a lifetime. From $34,553;

Light on Their Tows
Well-equipped teardrop trailers, which include kitchenettes, cost $9,000 to $14,500. For a classic model, check out the Cozy Cruiser ( A more contemporary version is the T@B (

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