Airbnb is getting into home design

Airbnb is getting into home design

In an effort to become a company that also offers houses, not just accommodations, Airbnb is embarking on the creation of prototype houses. Through Samara, its forward-looking product design team, and the Backyard initiative, new ideas are tested, new ways of living and experiencing protected space are explored.

Following in the pioneering footsteps of Airbnb and challenging conventional thinking, Backyard questions the potential of space and tries to find concrete answers to apply to architecture and construction. In reality, “Backyard explores how buildings could use sophisticated manufacturing techniques, smart home technologies, and the vast knowledge of the Airbnb community to thoughtfully respond to the changing needs of owners or occupants over time.”.

Joe Gebbia.  Image courtesy of Samara / Backyard
Joe Gebbia. Image courtesy of Samara / Backyard

For Backyard to have a role to play in the future of home, we need to look holistically at how people live, past and present, from micron to meter, […] The diversity of knowledge and perspectives of our team gives us a distinct advantage over industry players and potential disruptors. It was amazing to watch the team gain momentum and grow to bring this radical project to life. We are always looking for new, spirited, creative and thoughtful people from all walks of life to join us. –Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb

Samara has just hired William O’Brien Jr., a tenured professor of architecture at MIT. The purpose of this new job is to further develop Backyard, its home building effort, “an attempt to design and prototype new ways to build and share homes”. O’Brien Jr. joins the team through MIT’s Department of Architecture and award-winning architectural design studio WOJR. At Samara, he will partner with former Apple industrial designer Miklu Silvanto to lead an interdisciplinary product design team reporting to founder Joe Gebbia.

Tarpaulin.  Image courtesy of Samara / Backyard
Tarpaulin. Image courtesy of Samara / Backyard

In architecture today, there is a range of agendas that range from those propelled by an interest in the role of technology in the future of building to those committed to the appropriation of the forms of pass, […] Backyard is such an interesting hybrid because it gives these perspectives an equal footing, drawing on lessons learned from history while filtering them through the prism of technology. Learning that architectural design is so highly valued in Samara was a sign that something special was happening here. We are at the start of something new. I am delighted.– William O’Brien Jr., professor of architecture at MIT.