View from Amélie's back door.
View from Amélie's back door.

Living for the outdoors

Amélie Touram’s home was in a van, not a caravan or a camper van, but a van. And this was all in the pursuit of one thing, maximising time rock-climbing. This lifestyle makes her one of many IKEA Home Pioneers, who recently attended a workshop in Copenhagen to share more about their lives and what they think of as “home”. 

The stories of Home Pioneers such as Amélie are just one part of the upcoming IKEA Life at Home Report. The report consists of hundreds of hours of interviews both online and in people’s homes in seven countries across the world and provides the foundations for product development at IKEA.

Amélie’s home facilitated her life as a competitive rock-climber. Her story began in Boston and then took her across the United States multiple times, passing through some of the most famous and majestic climbing spots in the world.

This is an unusual attitude, which makes IKEA curious. Lydia Choi-Johansson, Intelligence Specialist, Inter IKEA Systems, talks about why Amélie was an interesting perspective to include in the Life at Home Report: “Mobile living is interesting as our lives are becoming more on-the go these days. Therefore, we thought she can capture how we can create a homey feeling and sanctuary despite constantly being on the move. Also, understanding different lifestyles and how people connect with nature these days which is an emerging behaviour particularly among young generations was interesting aspect to explore.”

“You know how people will go camping to go camping. They will go on to enjoy cooking in the woods,” says Amélie. “It’s different when you’re climbing, it’s sleeping outside for the purpose of going climbing.”

Choosing to live outdoors. Amélie’s home facilitated her life as a competitive rock-climber
Choosing to live outdoors. Amélie’s home facilitated her life as a competitive rock-climber

Even though the report is still work-in-progress, one of the ideas the research team has been discussing is that the best homes are the ones that facilitate our lives; we’re not always dragging them behind us, they’re leading us forward. Amélie is a great example of this, she knew what she wanted and she’d made a home in order to make it possible.

You know how people will go camping to go camping. It’s different when you’re climbing, it’s sleeping outside for the purpose of going climbing.

Amélie describes a life of rolling into a campsite as the sun went down, cooking one-pan paleo meals and then crashing in the van, gathering energy for the next day’s climb. They saved time by choosing not to sleep in a tent, “which was actually really funny because we were such outdoorsy people but it’s just so easy to park and just sleep.”

“The stronger my sanctuary the more I can reach out and be bold in my life,” says Amélie Touram, reflecting on her lifestyle as a professional rock-climber.
“The stronger my sanctuary the more I can reach out and be bold in my life,” says Amélie Touram, reflecting on her lifestyle as a professional rock-climber.

Did she feel like she had a home whilst living in the van? “Not really. I felt like I was living outside.”

Despite having no fixed address and a home on wheels Amélie says she felt really strong in her van. It became a sanctuary for her, somewhere she felt safe and secure. It was lockable, it could be screened off and she had a travelling companion she trusted. “The stronger my sanctuary the more I can reach out and be bold in my life,” she says. “I pushed myself every day and I was a little bit scared every day and I think sanctuary plays a huge role in that.”

She talks about having duplicity in her identity, which is something many of us can relate to. “A lot of people think that because you lived in a van you must be this hippie hippie nomadic true spirit but if you know me, I am not a free spirit. I am super-hyper-deliberate about my choices.”

The full Life at Home report will be released in October, but keep your eyes peeled during August, when the next IKEA catalogue will be launched, for some “home pioneering hints”. Also, read about the workshop in Copenhagen when 16 Home Pioneers spent the day with the IKEA research team.