Airbnb’s Designing Furniture Now — And It’s Modular

published May 30, 2017
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Joe Gebbia, the co-founder and chief product officer of Airbnb, is putting his degree from the Rhode Island School of Design to good use. His collegiate interest in furniture design led to the creation of a co-branded line of modular furniture for Airbnb and Bernhardt.

Surprising to no one, Airbnb has moved its company office spaces several times in the last few years. Along with meteoric rise in popularity comes meteoric growth in staffing, and the innovative consumer brand has learned a lot about office furniture and design in the process over the last decade. Inspired and informed by his company’s experiences and trial-and-error in open layout office design over the years, the furniture collection was born out of Airbnb’s new in-house innovation lab, called Samara.

Called “Neighborhood,” DesignBoom compared the collection to LEGOs: 38 modules ranging from high-back units to sofa sectionals and tables can adapt to a variety of spaces and situations, using building block-like geometries to generate an endless set of configurations. Various configurations can create intimate nooks for a private meeting or open lounges for collaborative conversation, and everything in between, relatively quickly. Electrical outlets are integrated into each piece, and sound absorbing materials cater to the needs of a bustling modern office. Pieces can also be configured to create quiet corners for working on a laptop without distractions, answering the prayers of many open-layout-office employees.

Gebbia told Co.Design that while he was a RISD student he was inspired by the work of Charles and Ray Eames. “[It] was my first introduction to the idea that you could apply your approach to creativity toward design, and change the lives of the people surrounding you.”

Samara, Airbnb’s new innovation lab and design studio (from which the Neighborhood furniture launched), is aimed at exploring new attitudes towards sharing and trust and is poised to expand the company’s scope beyond hospitality and into urban planning.

According to the splash page for Samara on Airbnb’s website, “Airbnb proves that hospitality, generosity, and the simple act of trusting strangers can go a long way. Samara is a space for these values to continue to evolve beyond travel and hospitality and into our daily lives.”

Check out the entire line of Neighborhood furniture for Bernhardt on Architectural Digest.