Off the Road
We are all born explorers

23 November 2016

We are all born explorers. Robert Klanten, Sven Ehmann and Maximilian Funk are so convinced of the truth of this claim that they have put it on the back cover of their book Off the Road. Explorers, Vans, and Life off the Beaten Track, published by Gestalten. To prove their thesis, they offer the reader a selection of contemporary adventurers, presenting their exploits through evocative pictures, illustrations and texts. They are men and women who have turned away from the routes of mass tourism and devoted their lives to exploring little travelled roads, remote landscapes or parts of the world with hostile climates. People driven by a boundless curiosity and with a healthy dose of courage. Some of them are exceptional, like Gunther Holtorf. His story is familiar to many in Italy, having been told at the exhibition Modus Vivendi. Trame di viaggi held in 2015 at the Museo dell’Auto in Turin. At the age of 50, after a thirty-year-long career as a manager at Lufthansa, Holtorf chose a life of adventure and set off to explore the world for twenty-six years. He was accompanied on his journey by a G-Wagen Mercedes Benz dubbed Otto, with which he visited 215 countries, covering a total distance of 900,000 kilometers. In the pages of Off the Road, cars, campervans and of course off-the-road vehicles are elevated to the role of co-stars, through an account of their performances in desert, tundra, mountains and forest. These vehicles show a surprising versatility when they come to a stop, bringing out kitchens, relaxation zones, sanitation facilities, verandas and offices in which to plan the next route and incarnating an alternative model of life to one of conventions, luxury and prearranged times of departure. Off the Road also gives a voice and a face to fledgling explorers, young families, couples or singles who wait for the weekend to come round in order to take up the invitation of the road. And to make an alliance with it under the banner of freedom.

Vandog Traveller, United Kingdom. Foto: Mike Hudson. Da Off the Road, © Gestalten 2016.

Vandog Traveller, United Kingdom. Photo: Mike Hudson. © Gestalten 2016.

Tompall Glaser, United States. Foto: Tompall Glaser. Da Off the Road, © Gestalten 2016.

Tompall Glaser, United States. Photo: Tompall Glaser. © Gestalten 2016.

Böhtlingk Architecture, Netherlands. Foto: Roos Aldershoff. Da Off the Road, © Gestalten 2016.

Böhtlingk Architecture, Netherlands. Photo: Roos Aldershoff. © Gestalten 2016.

Scott Cochran, United States. Foto: Scott Cochran. Da Off the Road, © Gestalten 2016.

Scott Cochran, United States. Photo: Scott Cochran. © Gestalten 2016.

Atlas 4 x 4, Germany. Foto: Michael Dennig. Da Off the Road, © Gestalten 2016.

Atlas 4 x 4, Germany. Photo: Michael Dennig. © Gestalten 2016.

Archie Leeming, United Kingdom / Wild Tracks in Africa. Foto: Archie Leeming. Da Off the Road, © Gestalten 2016.

Archie Leeming, United Kingdom / Wild Tracks in Africa. Photo: Archie Leeming. © Gestalten 2016.

Alison Turner, United States. Photo: Alison Turner. © Gestalten 2016.

Alison Turner, United States. Photo: Alison Turner. © Gestalten 2016.

Gunther Holtorf – Otto’s Reise, Germany. Photo: Gunther and Martin Holtorf. © Gestalten 2016.

Gunther Holtorf – Otto’s Reise, Germany. Photo: Gunther and Martin Holtorf. © Gestalten 2016.

Off the Road. Explorers, Vans, and Life Off the Beaten Track

Off the Road. Explorers, Vans, and Life Off the Beaten Track

Off the Road. Explorers, Vans, and Life Off the Beaten Track

Off the Road. Explorers, Vans, and Life Off the Beaten Track

Off the Road. Explorers, Vans, and Life Off the Beaten Track

Off the Road. Explorers, Vans, and Life Off the Beaten Track

Off the Road. Explorers, Vans, and Life Off the Beaten Track

Off the Road. Explorers, Vans, and Life Off the Beaten Track

Off the Road. Explorers, Vans, and Life Off the Beaten Track

Off the Road. Explorers, Vans, and Life Off the Beaten Track

Off the Road. Explorers, Vans, and Life Off the Beaten Track


Valentina Silvestrini

She has a naturally curly head of hair and in third grade founded a monthly magazine called Magiche Amiche (“Magic Friends”), brought out in ten handwritten copies sewn together with a needle and thread by her mother. Out of a love of exhibitions, museums and other forms of display, she left her native Umbria to take a degree in architecture in Rome. When not in Florence, the city where she has chosen to live, she’s likely to be wandering around Asia with a backpack. She dreams of cities with no cars and has a weakness for modern collectibles. Editor-in-chief for design and architecture at Cosebelle, she also writes for Artribune.


leave a note