Initiated by Co-founder Joe Gebbia, the wildly successful online vacation home marketplace Airbnb is launching an innovation and design studio called “Samara,” which 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 the studio will bring together design and engineering within the company in a new way, and that ideas generated at Samara will form the beginnings of advanced services reaching new areas of the Airbnb community.
“Healthy communities are those that support each other, and we’re inventing new pathways to enable this”
Gebbia, who is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, set up Airbnb as a design-led business. 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 reportedly part of the Samara agenda. It all sounds rather vague on paper, but when Gebbia himself elaborates on Samara, it starts to sound like a uniquely collaborative idea with a great deal of potential.
Gebbia said of Samara: “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.”
“Samara will give us even more experimental space to apply what we’ve learned over the last eight years”
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. 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. Yoshino Cedar House is the first Airbnb of its kind and the company said that it will consider expanding the concept to similar communities around the world should it prove a success. Gebbia said of the house: “The Yoshino Cedar House is just one seed among many. Given the size and scale of the Airbnb community, the areas to explore are limitless.”