Airbnb’s new in-house design studio, Samara, is led by Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia, who himself has a design background. It aims to develop design services “that extend Airbnb’s values and vision into new areas” according to a statement from the company. Areas of focus will be architecture, service design, software engineering and new economic models.
The studio’s first project is currently on display at an exhibition in Tokyo called House Vision: the Yoshino Cedar House (pictured), which Airbnb says aims to “merge the community with space for guests”.
The house is fully owned by Airbnb and, following the exhibition (which runs until the end of August) will be available to book as a listing in Yoshino, a town in Nara Prefecture. The property has a distinctive triangular roof, which forms a second-floor sleeping area. It marks Airbnb’s first deliberate effort to help revitalise a regional area financially through tourism. Proceeds from guests will be put towards rejuvenating the local area.
The move is also significant in that it is a physical manifestation of the Airbnb brand in Japan. As a platform, Airbnb is still working to build understanding of its brand and service in the market. With its aim of fostering closer ties between people, the Yoshino House can be seen as an embodiment of Airbnb’s values and a chance to add a new dimension to the brand.