Cult Rooms Alberto Rosselli’s Mobile House presaged “vanlife” half a century ago.

Cult Rooms Alberto Rosselli’s Mobile House presaged “vanlife” half a century ago.

  • Words Louise Benson
  • Photograph Courtesy of Archivio Isao Hosoe

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” This hopeful vision of a new way of life is the thread that runs throughout Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel, On the Road. Fifteen years later, Italian architect and industrial designer Alberto Rosselli would give practical shape to this countercultural trend for nomadic living with his design for the extendable Mobile House.

Rosselli’s design—introduced at MoMA in 1972 as part of a major group exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape—could triple in size thanks to telescoping runners, hinged floors and accordion walls that allowed it to extend in four directions. Sleek in silver, it carried all the hallmarks of the futuristic design of the period, from the rounded doors and circular, periscope-like windows...

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