“When we first bought our 1973 Kombi camper van, its not-so-original interior had clearly seen better days. After a few trips away it soon became apparent that there were more issues than just the crumbling chipboard veneer, so we compiled a wish list of improvements for our dream interior,” says Felicity Joll of Lowd Vans, a new company that produces stylish flat-pack DIY interior kits for VW Kombi vans.
Given Felicity is also the creative director of Melbourne furniture design company Yellow Diva, designing cabinetry for a VW Kombi van wasn’t much of a stretch. “We did a bit of market research and weren’t overly impressed by what was available and since we are both designers, we naturally preferred to create our own,” says Felicity who runs both businesses alongside her co-director David Walley.
“First up, it was out with the chipboard and in with FSC film-faced birch plywood which is sustainable, light weight and water resistant. Our aim was to maximise storage, maximise access and maximise that classic VW style and the result was so perfect we felt we should share the joy. And in a geographically sprawling country like Australia, where logistics are everything, what better way to supply the product than flat packed for DIY self-assembly?” says Felicity.
The Lowd Vans aesthetic is inspired by the original Westfalia interiors that first appeared inside VW Kombi vans in the 1950’s and were the brand’s only officially authorised partner.
“Westfalia coachworks came up with the concept of ‘Camping Boxes’ in the early 1950’s. These off-the-peg kits converted your standard VW van into a ‘landhaus auf rädern’ or ‘country house on wheels’! The aesthetic of the Westfalia interiors was very reminiscent of that of a boat or yacht, with a streamlined silhouette and dedicated places for the accessories. At Lowd Vans we have referenced this heritage in our designs but with a contemporary twist and twenty-first century manufacturing methods,” says Felicity.
Available in a choice of five colours, all with a natural birch ply fascia accent, the Lowd Van kits are made to order in Melbourne with a lead time of around four weeks with prices ranging from $795 for a single freestanding cabinet to $3750 for a full assembly. “The Winkipop Full Assembly is $3750 and comprises storage for cutlery, crockery and saucepans, a cabinet to take a 12v/240v fridge and single burner butane stove, sink cabinet with pull-out larder, plus two top-access locker cabinets,” says Felicity who has also designed a range of accessories to complement including tables and even a herb rack!
“Although we get enquiries from as far afield as North and South America and South Africa, our sales to date have tended to come from within Australia. There is particular interest from the further flung states – perhaps WA and QLD are particularly suited to life on the open road? We are also planning to set up manufacture in Ireland to service the European market directly,” says Felicity.
“The Kombi has been at the forefront of social change since it emerged in the 50’s. Adopted by the counter culture and ‘flower power’ of the 60’s, and the surf culture in the 70’s, the Kombi is now emblematic of both these movements. The iconic vans continue to inspire new generations of enthusiasts through endless opportunities for tinkering and customisation, from slammed or lowered, rat-look to hippy-chic tiny home.”