Airbnb launches design studio Samara

Design studio set up to pool Airbnb’s design and engineering expertise in the hope of furthering the company’s “values and vision”.

Airbnb_Joe Gebbia_Credit Matthew Placek_1
Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia

Airbnb is launching an innovation and design studio called Samara, which will “bring together design and engineering” within the company “in a new way”.

The project has been initiated by Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia and will see a multi-disciplinary design studio set up within the company’s San Francisco headquarters, pooling expertise from across the company.

The hope is that ideas generated at Samara will form the beginnings of advanced services reaching new areas of the Airbnb community.

Services to extend Airbnb values

Gebbia, who is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, set up Airbnb as a design-led business. You can learn more about how he did this in our exclusive video interview with Gebbia here.

He wants services and ideas to be formed that extend Airbnb’s values and vision into new areas. To this end architecture, service design, software engineering and even “new economic models” are part of the Samara agenda.

“Inventing new pathways”

Gebbia says: “We believe healthy communities are those that support each other, and we’re inventing new pathways to enable this.

“Samara will give us even more experimental space to apply what we’ve learned over the last eight years and pioneer services for connection, commerce, and social change within and around the expanding Airbnb community.”

One project has already come out of the Samara studio. Yoshino Cedar House was designed and built for designer Kenya Hara’s House Vision exhibition in Tokyo and was created in collaboration with Tokyo-based architect Go Hasegawa.

Deeper relationship between hosts and guests

The house has been designed to engender a deeper relationship between hosts and guests. Following the exhibition the house will be permanently installed in the small village of Yoshino, Japan, where it will be available to book and the village will maintain it.
Proceeds will go toward strengthening the “cultural legacy” and future of the village, according to Airbnb.

The idea is that a listing run by and for the benefit of a village will engage local communities. Airbnb says it will monitor the project and consider rolling it out to other rural communities.

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Yoshino Cedar House
House Vision 2 exhibition
House Vision 2 exhibition

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