By Chere Di Boscio
Attention lifestyle nomads: the Slovak company Ecocapsule ® has officially launched their first, exclusive series of unique, self-sustainable mobile microhomes. Limited to 50 customers from the USA, Japan, Australia and EU, these tiny homes can be transported anywhere: utop a mountain, onto a beach, or even on a lake.
Part space pod, part camper, the Ecocapsule is an egg-shaped, naturally powered microhome that can be used as not only a house, but an office, cottage, pop-up hotel, or emergency shelter that doubles as a charging station for electric vehicles.
Tomà¡Ã… ¡ Ã… ½à¡Ã„ ek, co-founder and current CEO of the company, says he was delighted to finally launch the first home after months of designing, production, testing and certification. He hopes that in 2018, his company will begin production of the second, more affordable mass-produced series, which will be available globally, and will surely prove popular with anyone interested in mobile, off-grid living.
With its wind and solar power, slick design and relative affordability, Ecocapsule ® has attracted the attention of environmentalists, journalists and investors alike. Here, in this exclusive interview, Tomà¡s tells us more about the unique homes he’s created, who is buying them, and why.
What initially inspired the idea behind Ecocapsule ®?
The story of Ecocapsule ® began in 2008, when our architectural studio Nice Architects (now known as Nice&Wise) participated in the Andes Sprout Society Idea Competition to design a small housing unit for an artist. Although the design didn’t win the competition, the breaking point for the project was when the internet portal inhabitat.com chose Ecocapsule ® as one of their most interesting picks from the competition. A massive amount of inquiries persuaded us to develop this project further. Yet, technology in 2008 was not ready for a truly independent house. Within the next five years, we were working on the technological and product design of the Ecocapsule ® in order to bring the best possible product. In 2014, the development of technology has finally allowed them to finish the Ecocapsule ® prototype equipped with systems necessary for long time independence.
Why do you think the tiny house movement has resonated so much globally?
I think it has a lot to do with the current trend in mobility, a nomadic lifestyle and also partially reflects a rejection of the consumer culture. People started to realize that life is not only about the number of things you own, but rather about your relationship towards a couple your most precious possessions. Also, some people have finally realized the dangers of our current lifestyle for our environment and nature.
Tell us a bit about the differences between the first Ecocapsule ® and the more economic version
The differences are numerous. The first, exclusive series is intended for pioneer clients and tech-enthusiasts. This series is limited to 50 pieces and it is also geographically limited to markets in the USA, Australia, Japan and EU. An important difference is that this series is customizable to a certain degree, so we can satisfy specific requirements of our clients. The second series will be mass-produced and thus we want it to be significantly cheaper. We will announce the price of the second series Ecocapsules ®in the first half of this year. The sale of this series will be geographically unlimited and the Ecocapsules ®will not be customizable.
What have been some of the most interesting uses of the Ecocapsule ® so far?
Our clients have a lot of interesting ideas, which include the use of Ecocapsule ® as a research station for scientists, a guarding outpost, and part of hotel accommodation on an island. There are literally dozens of possible ways to use the Ecocapsule ®.
What are the biggest obstacles you have faced trying to set up Ecocapsule ®?
As with every project, you meet obstacles on your way to a successful finish. In the first years, the most important obstacles were connected to the lack of time and financial resources. This changed after someinvestment, since it has created a stable ground for us to work and focus on leading the project to completion. We have also had to overcome everyday challenges in the production process, but we prefer to call these challenges instead of obstacles, since we learn a lot with every step of the process.
So which moments have made you proudest so far?
Together with my partner and co-founder of Ecocapsule ® Sona Pohlova, we have been really proud on several occasions. The most important one was perhaps when we have stepped into the final Ecocapsule ® prototype. We have felt deep accomplishment and joy over the fact that we have turned our dream into reality.
What plans do you have next for Ecocapsule ®?
We have lots and lots of plans. Our primary aim is now to finish the sale, production and delivery of the limited series to our clients. At the moment we are also in the second round of investment aimed at financing the setting up of a functional global distribution network and launching the mass-production of the second series. We are always looking for ways to make Ecocapsule ® better and we are also working on a couple of interesting accessories. So far, from my standpoint, the future looks very promising!
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All images: courtesy of Ecocapsule