The 1985 Magical Unfolding Camping Trailer Design

The echoes of its influence on RV design are still felt today.

A walk-in freezer. An oversize portable toilet. Maybe a horse trailer. That is all you would have thought of the Böhtlingk De Markies if you passed it on the highway. If you saw it at the campground, though, unfolded in all its sleek, spacious glory, you’d never believed it was the same plain white windowless box you saw on the road. Innovative design happens in smaller waves, but it can also hit with a singular tsunami. Here’s a look at the magical unfolding camping trailer that changed RV Design.

innovative design rv
The brilliant use of space reveals Bohtingk’s genius.

This design, which perfectly fuses efficient use of space and brilliant aesthetics, was originally conceived by Eduard Böhtlingk of the Netherlands. The company name–also Böhtlingk–specializes in home design. This Dutch company entered this innovative, fold-out camper in the Temporary Living competition back in the mid-80s. In 1996 it was awarded the Public Prize at the Rotterdam Design competition and became influential for trailer designers around the world.

The Awning 

rv design

The name means simply means “The Awning“, and the expandable sides are the key to this design. In its compact form, the Markies is a mere two metres by four and a half metres. The long sides fold out and increase the floor space to almost three times that size, and includes a full kitchenette complete with a four-person dining table. Lower one side to create the sleeping space, which includes a double bed and two single beds. There’s even an adjustable screen to divide the bedroom for privacy. The other side, which is meant to be the patio and seating space, has a transparent awning that is also adjustable, giving you a convenient way to let in the surrounding wilderness (or to keep it out).

The Sincerest Form of Flattery 

From the Jay series camping trailer
From the Jay series camping trailer

This brilliant interpretation of the humble pop-up camper or the fold-out trailer has been mimicked and copied several more times. The most breathtaking tribute to the De Markies could be the Opera Camper, and the moment you see it, you’ll understand where the name comes from.

Look familiar?
Opera Camper

Designed by Axel Enthoven, this breathtaking pop-up camper looks ordinary enough at first. It’s a standard size trailer that can be easily towed behind your truck or even car, and in less than four minutes, the electric motor opens the tent into a stunning 23-foot long suite, with a roof that mimics the distinctive peaks of the Sydney Opera House.

In virtually every era since the invention of the recreational vehicle, there are new and impressive models to amaze and impress. The next time you’re on the road, and you see a trailer that looks ordinary, think again. It might just be an Opera House or the winner of the Rotterdam Design Prize.

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