A tent. It manifests the spontaneous thought of “let’s get away from it all” even if it’s in your own backyard — or atop the neighbor’s roof.

Tents, and an evolving notion of what it means to “camp out,” have of late spawned a fresh design movement aimed at reconnecting us to the outdoors, even in the din of a city. The designs are often beautiful, otherworldly, and thoughtful: Pup tents are giving way to space pods and lunar landers suspended from the trees. Once a canvas tent, tents become a canvas.

Join Grist as we explore the wild landscape of our cities.
Susie Cagle
Join Grist as we explore the wild landscape of our cities.

And lest you think that this is all frivolity and giant sperms, a tent is often all a person has, the simple walls between their life and elements. Some of these artists and designers are creating spaces and places for the homeless and communities harboring those without homes, empowering tent villages and camp communities.

In truth, all should have a home on Earth. If your flat happens to look like a spaceship or a cement mixer — or even a giant purple sperm — all the more power to you.