It’s fitting that Matthew Hofmann’s firm, Hofmann Architecture, is located in California’s Central Coast, the birthplace of America’s environmental movement. A massive July 1969 oil platform’s spill of thousands of gallons of crude along America’s pristine West Coast birthed one of the country’s first Earth Days in April of 1970.
In the past 8 years Hofmann and his team of nine other forward-thinking designers have become the world's leading experts in creating modern mobile spaces. Inspired by a vision of spreading a more sustainable way of living, the firm has designed over 400 custom projects for a wide variety of applications – from vintage Airstreams to mobile living spaces that float on the water and fly in the air.
In 2018, Hofmann decided to transform nearly a decade’s-worth of experience designing and living in mobile spaces into the creation of Living Vehicle™. Last April, Hofmann premiered his new LV next to industry leadings all-electric vehicles at Santa Barbara’s 2018 Earth Day. The company's website describes their product as a mobile space designed for modern living.
This month, as Matthew and his wife/LV co-founder, Joanna prepare to re-embark on a full-time mobile adventure in one of their Living Vehicles. Some industry experts refer to the Hofmann’s LV as the Tesla of RVs.
Travel Pass Magazine caught up with the couple to learn more about their small space concepts and share some secrets to living an elegantly-simple life on the road.
TPM: What were your motivations and design priorities when you designed the Living Vehicle?
MH: I wanted to create something that could sustain an individual, or a family of six, wherever they wanted to live – whether it was connected to city services or off-grid. My vision was to design a lightweight, sustainable, and full-service home on wheels where people could come together and live comfortably any season.
JH: Most of the design concepts were more of a reality that came from our own travel experiences of living in RVs and on a boat. These experiences drove us to take a common sense approach to designing multi-use appliances, technology, materials and living spaces.
TPM: What are some of the unique components that contribute to a pleasant mobile living experience in Living Vehicle?
JH: One of my favorite spaces is the chef’s kitchen. I have always loved to cook in an indoor-outdoor area that flows well and allows me to stay connected with family and friends. Living Vehicle accomplishes this goal with a full kitchen, large pantry, generous refrigerator/freezer, and a removable island that can be used inside or out on the sundeck with propane grill.
MH: I like the pet friendly features of LV such as the durable LVM flooring that resists scratches. Plus, the outdoor deck allows pets, and even youngsters, to move indoors or out without worrying about running off. Because I have pet hair and dander allergies, I appreciate the central vacuum and the outdoor shower for easy cleanups. Another cool feature we added was a hidden trash chute that keeps the waste out of sight and the smells out of our living space.
TPM: A quick look at the Living Vehicle website makes it clear you’re geared for adventure.
JH: Enjoying the Great Outdoors is key to our lifestyle so, of course, we want to bring along the toys. We created oversized storage spaces for snowboards, skis, bikes, and more.
MH: We also designed a living space that’s truly 4-season capable. The hefty insulation R-value of the walls, floor and ceiling spaces is coupled with a conditioned basement that protects the water storage and piping in subfreezing temperatures. We also raised the all-aluminum chassis and installed heavy-duty off-road capable axles and tires.
TPM: How does your mobile lifestyle support working on the road?
MH: Thanks to a great team at the office, we can run our business easily from any location that has Internet. Our LV is a convertible live/work space with a bedroom suite that doubles as a home office. The LV also has an omni-directional WiFi antenna for remote Internet access.
JH: Matthew and I both have plenty of space to work at several locations inside or outside on the deck.
TPM: You’ve mentioned sustainability-- which is a word that is commonly miss-used these days. How do you define it and what roll does it play in your designs?
MH: I believe sustainability is the capacity for life to endure by means of relying less on external resources. To enhance it’s off-grid capability LV has two oversized propane tanks, four 150-watt solar panels, four 12-volt lithium ion batteries, and a 3000-watt power inverter. It also has a 100-gallon freshwater tank and more than 100 gallons of waste water storage. All combined, LV can support two people living comfortably in a remote wilderness area for a month or more. Our ten-year goal is to incorporate technology for LV to produce its own water and food resources.
TPM: How do you fit six adults sleeping in 215 square feet?
MH: There's a convertible lounge that easily transforms into an extra long double bed, and above it a hidden bed that automatically lowers over the lounge for two. There’s also a full queen bedroom suite for two more.
JH: The bathroom is situated between the kitchen and the bedroom so it’s easily accessible from anywhere. I love the teak wall-lined shower, too! It feels like a spa with the a large skylight overhead.
California-licensed Architect Matthew Hofmann, 34, was raised in the tiny Eastern High Sierra mountain town of Mammoth Lakes, CA (elev. 8,500’). At age 10 he built a seven-story tree house in his backyard forest. As a teen he worked in the construction trades and designed several multi-million dollar resort homes along with his father Wally. These experiences combined with a passion for hiking, snowboarding and mountain biking influenced a playful exchange of blending indoor and outdoor spaces. His passion for the great outdoors is clear throughout all of his projects. He attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he earned a degree in Architecture. He and his wife, Joanna, are partners in their firm, Living Vehicle Inc. Check them out at www.LivingVehicle.com and at LivingVehicle on Instagram and Facebook.