In front of a rugged mountain landscape, a lake stretches across the wide plain, reflecting the setting evening sun. There is no one to be seen far and wide. A closer look reveals a red fire engine parked on the shore of the lake. In front of the van, Alizée and Yoann sit, wrapped in a blanket, with tea in their hands, and watch the play of colors in the sky. The designer duo from France regularly experience moments like these. Germany, Scandinavia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and France – the two nomads set up camp wherever they like. With their unique Mercedes-Benz 508 D, which they use as their home, workshop, and means of transport, no journey seems too far for them. On their travels through Europe, Alizée and Yoann are inspired by their “Wild Human Life” philosophy.
Alizée and Yoann had had enough of city life and decided to start their own business. But it was not easy to advance their low-tech systems and developments in a metropolis like Paris. So, the couple decided to continue their life on the road. There, they could pursue their idea of a self-sufficient existence and share their vision with other people. On their travels, they met with other artisans to exchange ideas about new inventions, discover new building techniques, and share their knowledge. They report about these encounters on their blog called Wild Human Life. Alizée worked as an interior and textile designer before they moved their lives into a van. Yoann specialized in product design and leather crafts. He also helped open several self-sufficiency workshops.
We decided to go out and become nomads to get closer to our mindset. We want to share our vision with other people and discover different handicraft techniques.
In a world where excessive consumption is commonplace, and mass production shapes our economy, custom-made products and artifacts from traditional crafts have become rare. “This is where the idea for Wild Human Life came from,” says Yoann. The mobile design studio roams Europe in search of alternatives to our current consumer habits, manufacturing, and production systems. With new techniques, simple design, and above all, affordable prices, the couple from France wants to create a greater understanding of traditional craftsmanship. The French duo think it’s essential to change our consumer habits, and they are willing to tackle the problem. The two craftspeople make everything themselves. They sell some of the products made from materials they encounter on their travels in their online shop. They turn old into new by using natural or recycled raw materials and simple methods, breathing new life into old objects. They find inspiration in nature – back to the roots is their motto. Over time they have specialized in wooden construction, leather seams, and handicrafts and produce extraordinary, high-quality products without much technology.
Wild Human Life exclusively offers self-manufactured products. The idea behind it is to make everyday life easier by learning how to repair objects independently or make something new from old. Through the use of low-tech, they want to live self-sufficiently.
In addition to their fire engine van, which serves as their home, means of transport and workshop, the two craftsmen converted a trailer, which offers them a workbench and additional storage space. They never run out of ideas. They are currently working on a mobile studio, the “Atelier Autonome,” in a container. The studio can be set up anywhere, at any time, and equipped with a self-made machine. This machine is driven entirely by human power. Three different attachments can be interchanged as required. It drives a circular saw, a stone cutter, and a grinding machine – all without electricity. The couple wants to make it clear that there is an alternative to electricity. Alizée and Yoann want to live self-sufficiently. To be independent of material supplies, any infrastructure, or electricity. Sounds utopian? But it’s not, as the two inventors prove.
When Alizée and Yoann chose their new, drivable home, they had a clear vision and the Mercedes-Benz 508 D was the right choice. In their search for a new home, the two fell in love with a fire engine from Austria. As self-sufficient nomads, it was vital for them to find a reliable and durable vehicle that they could repair themselves. This way, they don’t have to worry about their faithful vehicle while on the road or have to visit a workshop if something goes wrong. For a whole three months, they worked, screwed, and fine-tuned the van. They installed a large window so that they could see the landscape better from their bed. Wood paneling and the self-built and designed interior transformed the old commercial vehicle with all kinds of fire brigade equipment into a feel-good home that makes every camper’s heart beat faster.
In the future, when they settle in a corner of the world, Alizée and Yoann want to open a nomad repair café. This will allow each visitor to repair their own objects in a fully equipped workshop. Also, a house on a piece of land, surrounded by trees that provide enough building material, and a few animals – that’s all it takes for the couple to live self-sufficiently. A small, creative, and self-sufficient paradise where they can work on, develop, and try out concepts. But there is still plenty of time until then because for the next five years the two are well supplied with ideas and inventions. Now it’s back to France to offer workshops on sustainability, low-tech, and simple manufacturing techniques for the younger generation. That’s where the future lies.
The shown conversions were carried out by independent third parties. The suppliers and conversions were not checked by Mercedes-Benz. In this respect, these illustrations do not represent an assessment of the supplier and/or conversions by Mercedes-Benz.