We were recently invited out to Hamburg to meet Stefan & Stefan, the genius minds behind the futuristic solution to outdoor living, HEIMPLANET. You may be aware of the brand due to their unique design language through their geometric domes inspired by Richard Buckminster Fuller.
After visiting your home, Germany, Hamburg, then your second home, The HEIMPLANET tent, the ethos around making yourself at home wherever you go is something we can all relate to when travelling for work, or to see relatives and friends. Something some may not be so accustomed to when thinking about going camping.
After testing out the HEIMPLANET ‘Cave’ we think you have found a solution! So where does this take you, high levels of comfort, sleek design, minimalistic & simple use?
We wanted to develop a tent that sets no limits in its possibilities, but at the same time has a simple function, is very comfortable and still has an aesthetic approach. More important than creating the lightest and most compact tent was for us to create a tent that can be used anywhere. Our tent is incredibly easy to set up - unroll, inflate, done! Nevertheless, it offers a high level of protection and a space in which you feel protected. A feeling of home that you can take with you.
With many other outdoor brands and products, we had the feeling that the user was in a battle with nature. That's exactly what we didn't want. Rather enjoy the feeling of being in nature and create a situation where you can let nature work its magic on you. At the same time, our aim was: It should offer comfort and safety under adverse conditions. No compromises when it comes to quality and functionality - we have focused on the best.
When initially designing the first HEIMPLANET tent what obstacles did you bump into?
At the end of our development phase, we had a prototype that experts said could not be produced in this way, because it was far too complex. It was a huge disappointment for us, but at the same time the beginning of a unique solution. Basically, it was the best thing that could have happened to us, because we had to completely rethink the concept. This led to the invention of the system on which all tents are based today: the Inflatable Diamond Grid (IDG). We basically divided the complex structure into similar pieces. THE CAVE for example has now five separate chambers that are interconnected and can be separated in case of damage (Multi Camber Safety System). The inflatable geodesic structure is built from modular double-layered struts. This provides excellent stability and guarantees that our tents are easy to pitch. With this change we not only made the tent possible, but also added an extra level of reliability.
Do you feel HEIMPLANET was designed out of a need or passion? & to follow, how do you balance the aesthetics with the functionality?
It was both. HEIMPLANET arose from the experience of being unsatisfied with a tent that we used. We asked ourselves what the tent of the future could look like. The more we dealt with the subject of the outdoors, the more exciting it became. We couldn't identify with many things from the classical outdoor world. There was a gap between how the outdoor industry communicated and how we felt about the outdoors. We've always been fascinated by the outdoors, being on the road and travelling but the whole look and image didn't appeal to us at all. That's why we would never have felt like we belonged at that point in time. I think at a certain point we also wanted to create this sense of belonging for people who felt like we did. And when we asked ourselves “Will this become a brand?” It also became about planning for the future.
HEIMPLANET combines aesthetics with functionality - our products are a symbiosis of both. We wanna set trends in the outdoor industry when it comes to the combination. Functionality is of course above everything. For us form is also a function and it defines of course the aesthetics, but it should never restrict the functionality. The most important thing for us is that our customers enjoy our products. It’s actually the best feedback for us when they tell us they had a great time using them.
There was a real sense of coming together and family out in Mecklenburger Elbetal, how does this affect your design process & what have you implemented to make your products more comfortable for families & larger groups?
We offer larger tents that invite you to use them with larger groups or as a family. Customers quickly notice that our products offer a certain level of comfort in this area. Our aim is, for example, not to make any compromises when it comes to seat height.
Our Season Opening is about bringing the Heimplanet Family together. That means not only employees but also friends and companions of the brand. Every year we choose a place where you feel comfortable and can spend time together in nature. We are deliberately doing a four-day event to give the whole thing time and space to develop its own dynamic. There is no fixed program, but you can meet new exciting people, find inspiration, go canoeing, eat well - whatever you feel like. Our goal is for everyone to go home with new ideas, contacts and good stories.
The idea of making yourself feel at home outdoors is somewhat a luxury, do you feel the design leans towards a certain type of consumer?
Outdoor does not always have to mean radical renunciation. If you choose the right products, this sacrifice is kept to a minimum. We address people who have higher demands on products and who follow our philosophy. Consumers who want to find out how they don't have to do without a certain level of comfort. People who are looking for something special. If you want to define a minimum of renounce as luxury, then we offer a luxurious product.
Personally being interested in wild camping & backpacking, is there a HEIMPLANET tent for this market?
Yes of course! Our Fistral tent with our HEIMPLANET signature pattern (Cairo Camo) would be perfect for this purpose. It is the lightest tent in our range and suitable for 1-2 people. The pattern makes it unobtrusive in nature. We didn't just want to offer a camouflage pattern. So we specially developed the Cario Camo for people who want to go wild camping and want to be rather unobtrusive. It basically works like a camouflage but fits more into our aesthetics.
Seeing your tents pitched up on the volcanic planes of Iceland, mountains & the grass fields in Germany really speaks to their versatility, how do you ensure that the products can be used across many diverse terrain?
That was the goal right from the very start: tents that completely cover every need and also work under the most extreme conditions. As already mentioned, functionality stands above all. We didn't want to compromise on functionality. Even in a storm, our tents can be set up without any problems. The construction is extremely stable due to the geodesic structure. Unlike tents with poles, nothing can break even in extreme conditions. Because we offer an inflatable product, many people underestimate that it is a high-performance product.
What can we expect from the future HEIMPLANET tent/s?
Since the beginning of HEIMPLANET we have always questioned the status quo. We can't think of anything worse than standing still. That's why we aim to question our products and make them better in the future, whenever we see the opportunity. This has led us to question our entire tent collection over the past year. On the one hand, our aim was to raise the quality level and to produce even more sustainably. On the other hand, to bring more harmony into the entire collection. The result is the relaunch of the entire tent range. We have improved the quality of the fabric we use for our tents and made them even more durable. We have also revised the entire colour range so that our tents now have a carmon-like overall picture. In the future, all tents will be available in three colour variants. That's not all: with the CAVE XL, we have launched a new, larger tent and have two more new tents that will come in the next few months. That was a lot of intensive work, but it has already paid off for us. Everything feels like the beginning of something new and big. The beginning of a new HEIMPLANET era.
ART DIRECTION by Orienteer mapazine
Photography & INterview Rory Griffin
You mentioned the larger Cave was used on a scientific expedition, could you go into more detail on that?
Actually this was our MAVERICKS tent. HEIMPLANET collaborated in 2021 with New Zealand scientists to support their research on climate change in Antarctica.They wanted to estimate Antarctica's contribution to current sea level rise by measuring how the ice interacts with the ocean. The best location for that was the Priestley Glacier, a large glacier that drains the Antarctic ice sheet into the ocean through the Transantarctic Range. With howling winds and temperatures below -30 °C they needed a tent to protect their sensitive measuring devices.
The unique design of the MAVERICKS was the perfect solution. With the help of the HEIMPLANET team, the tent was modified for its "ice-cold" use. All metal parts were replaced with custom-made plastic parts to avoid possible interference with the radar. Clamps were replaced by cords, the anchoring of the tent was strengthened as much as possible and guide ropes became anchor lines. The scientists also had to cut a hole in the ground to make room for the radar's tripod - all in the name of science.
The records are now used to study whether the glacier accelerates at different stages of the tide or whether it flows steadily into the sea.