The Story of the Nest: Airstream’s Next (Small) Big Thing

You’ve probably already heard Airstream is gearing up for the launch of our new fiberglass travel trailer, the Nest. But if you’re wondering how the Nest came to be – after all, it’s a whole new look for an Airstream – you aren’t alone!

We talked with the Nest’s creator, Robert Johans, to get the inside scoop on what inspired him to dream up the Nest and how he came to partner with Airstream to bring it to life.


Robert, a resident of Bend, Oregon, has an impressive and varied design background. His experience ranges from industrial and graphic design to fiberglass to woodworking – and, as not surprisingly, travel trailer restoration.

Before he conceived the Nest, Robert spent more than a decade renovating molded fiberglass travel trailers for customers all over the western United States. Over the years, as Robert’s reputation grew and he modernized more and more trailers, he realized something.

“People were spending a lot of money to have me make their trailers look great,” he says. “There was a market for really high-quality, well-designed, well-thought-out molded fiberglass travel trailers.”

Image: Johans1.jpg

But there simply wasn’t anything like that available. “The fiberglass travel trailers we see on the market today are like those we saw 40 years ago. They haven’t evolved all that much,” Robert points out. So he started developing some fresh concepts and ideas that eventually turned into the Nest.

"The design sensibility wasn’t just an afterthought," Robert said of his original plans. "I was looking at an audience of people who understand and appreciate design and quality. It’s part of their lifestyle.”

A long-time camper, Robert also drew on his camping experience to inform the Nest’s creation.

“My camping career tells me what works and what doesn’t when you’re actually in the campsite or on the road,” he says. “I’m always trying to solve problems in that way.”

Not long after his concept drawings and designs were launched on his website, they were seen by Bryan Thompson, an automotive designer who worked on the Airstream Basecamp. Bryan liked what he saw in the Nest and reached out to Robert, who hired him to help with the Nest’s exterior styling.

And through that relationship, Robert connected with Airstream.

Image: NestProto.jpg

The timing couldn’t have been better: Airstream had been discussing the expansion of its product line to include a molded fiberglass trailer. And Robert’s Nest exemplified exactly the kind of high-end, design-focused innovation that appeals to Airstream customers.

"What Airstream brings to the project is tremendous," Robert Says. "They're taking it to a level it would have taken me a long time to achieve."

Robert is now the project manager on the Nest product development team at Airstream. And he's understandably excited about and proud of this game-changing product.

"It's sophisticated. It has high-end fits and finishes. But it's also innovative," he says. "It's just a gorgeous little camper. Most folks will appreciate the quality, but those who really care about design are really going to love it."

The Nest is currently in development and will launch in early 2018.


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