Airbnb brings Jony Ive on board to design “future” of company

The former chief of design at Apple has teamed up with the property rental service to create “the next generation of Airbnb products and services”.

Jony Ive and his LoveFrom design studio will enter into a “multi-year relationship” with Airbnb as the company looks to its future.

The news was announced in a blog post from Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky. Along with former roommates Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, Chesky founded Airbnb in San Francisco in 2008.

The trio conceived the idea for the holiday property rental service after renting out an air mattress in their living room to offset the high cost of rent in the city, effectively turning their flat into a bed and breakfast. Twelve years on, Airbnb acts as a broker for more than seven million accommodations.

A “design-driven approach”

Since the company’s inception, Chesky claims design has been “at the core” of everything Airbnb does. He adds that his longstanding friendship with Ive has seen the designer offer “guidance and advice” over the years.

This new venture is being labelled a “special collaboration”. Chesky says Ive and his LoveFrom studio will work with Airbnb to design “the next generation of Airbnb products and services”. It is not clear yet whether this will entail redesigning established products and services or developing new ones.

It has also been revealed that Ive will work with Airbnb to continue to develop its internal design team. Chesky reports Ive is “particularly excited about a relationship that will evolve to become a deep collaboration with our creative team”.

All of this, he states, speaks to the seriousness of Airbnb’s “design-driven approach”.

The elusive LoveFrom

A partnership with Airbnb marks one of the first big collaborations for Ive’s elusive LoveFrom venture. When the designer announced last year that he would be leaving Apple to form the creative business with long-time colleague Marc Newson, little was known about this next step.

Much of LoveFrom’s operations are unknown. Indeed, the first result in a Google search of the LoveFrom name takes you to opportunistic site by a completely different designer. However it has been reported that Apple is LoveFrom’s primary client.

In his two decades at Apple, Ive designed or co-designed pretty much every major Apple hardware product, including the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. His name can be found on 1,628 patents in the US Patent and Trademark Office’s database.

An eventful decade

The past decade has been an eventful one for the designer. After Apple founder Steve Jobs’ death in 2011, Ive ascended to the role of leader of Industrial Design at the company.

He was subsequently relieved of this role in 2015 when he assumed the title of chief design officer. During this time, he helped design Apple Park with architect Norman Foster.

In 2012, Ive was knighted and in 2017, he was also announced as the new chancellor for the Royal College of Art. He took over the role from James Dyson.

Airbnb’s design evolution

While the Airbnb service has developed since its foundation, it has also reached several key design milestones, which have helped shape the company, including a major rebrand by Design Studio in 2014. It set up an in-house design studio, Samara, in 2016 in a bid to further the company’s “values and vision” and in 2018 set out to build its own houses.

Meanwhile it has designed large offices around the world in the likes of Dublin, San Francisco, Paris and Tokyo over the years to accommodate, what, at the time, was a growing workforce. Earlier this year Ragged Edge rebranded Airbnb’s hosting service as Houst.

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