For the over-scheduled city dweller, the desire to faithfully unplug on an adventurous outdoor excursion often only exists in theory. As the relentless pace of autumn ensues in the north, access to nature seems to slip away, but this is actually prime time for a retreat into the woods as fall foliage and fresh air beckon. Something magical happens when whiling away the hours in tree-covered groves and exhaling by a campfire on a crisp, starry night.
For this edition of Song of the Car, we bypassed cars that motor and instead opted for a vehicle that allowed us to stand completely still. When the opportunity to spend a weekend in a new Airstream trailer in upstate New York was presented, we happily eschewed roughing it in favor of creature comforts. The brand’s foundation is American, dating back to Ohio inventor Wally Byam, who produced the first Airstream in 1929. With its iconic modernist aluminum exterior, the design is eternally alluring with the perfect touch of kitsch.
In the lush, woodsy refuge of New York State, Airstreams feel at home. In fact, B52s bandmate Kate Pierson opened an original Airstream hotel, Lazy Meadow, not far from the KOA campground we inhabited. (She’s since shipped the artist-decorated vintage models to her California desert outpost.) The contemporary Airstream is available in an array of configurations including an Eddie Bauer model and a plush Mercedes-Benz touring coach. What appeals about the model we tested—the new 27-foot Signature—is what’s inside. The Signature has a calm, clean aesthetic imagined and created by the architect and product designer Christopher Deam. Translucent cabinets, Corian countertops and fine leather cover the surfaces, creating a breathable, open-air aesthetic. The leather pillows can be removed, stacked and re-arranged. The bed (built for two) is fluffy and decidedly more comfortable than a sleeping bag. Storage space is ample in unexpected cubbies, without feeling cramped. We even utilized the kitchen for farm-to-trailer cooking inside.
After a day spent disconnected in the great outdoors, the Airstream makes it easy to unwind while enjoying some modern conveniences. Equipped with Pandora radio, DVD, television and all the necessary auxiliary inputs, the Signature’s technological accessibility might seem over the top, but our instinct was to integrate and enjoy the best of both environments. We found our meditative soundtrack in the illuminating ambient sound of Christopher Willits‘ new album, Opening, which is best appreciated as a complete audio-visual experience through a blend of sound and screen. “The intention is to create a space with sound and light that can be used as a tool for being at peace and recharging with; something that you can breathe into, open up into,” Willits told us recently. Without the distraction of driving, the Airstream is the perfect setting to take in his documentary, directed and composed by Willits from an archive of images from his years of travels to Hawaii, Japan, Thailand and California. “Clear” is among the more rhythmically complex compositions in this audio-visual symphony. Willits, who is a Mills College graduate with a master’s degree in electronic music, last collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto on the album Ancient Future.
On the first day of our Airstream getaway, it poured. As the rain pulsed, we were cozy and dry inside. It was in these unplanned moments that 45 minutes of Willets’ aesthetic input filled the air, as images of beauty morphed and molded. When the rain stopped and the sky cleared, we opened the screen door, went outside and returned to nature.
Song of the Car matches music with automobiles, old and new. Appearing fortnightly on Cool Hunting, each feature takes a look at a car’s distinct personality and pairs it with a suitable song.
Images courtesy of Airstream and Tamara Warren