Airbnb "will change our idea of what
design is" says Ilse Crawford

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Ilse Crawford portrait by Stef Bakker

News: home-rental website Airbnb is causing a sea-change in attitudes towards design by allowing people to experience stylish interiors first hand rather than via magazines and websites, according to designer Ilse Crawford.

"We used to look in magazines to see other people's homes," said Crawford. "Now we can stay in them. Thanks to Airbnb we no longer have to be voyeurs of how other people live."

Speaking to Dezeen at the press preview of the London Design Festival at London's V&A museum this morning, Crawford explained that Airbnb is making design more accessible and reducing the sense of intimidation and "fear of the other" many people feel towards contemporary architecture and interiors.

"It will change our idea of what design is because we will cease to see it as something that is spectacular and aspirational," she said. "[Instead we will] start to see it more as something that is really about the ongoing story of our lives."

Crawford is one of four designers collaborating with Airbnb to install an ideal vision of domestic space in Trafalgar Square for the London Design Festival this September. The A Place Called Home project, which was announced today, will also include interiors by designers Jasper Morrison, Patternity and Raw Edges.

Crawford is one of the UK's most feted interior designers and has worked on projects including restaurants at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm and the first London outlet of Australian skincare brand Aesop – she talks to Dezeen about her studio and work in this movie.

Crawford believes that Airbnb fits into a wider shift in perceptions of what constitutes private and public space.

"The bigger thing is that the idea of what's private and what's public space is changing," she said. "We are now more public in private, so that's already opened the doors to Airbnb."

"We expect to be at home everywhere, so we are now working out what that feeling is," she added. "It's a step on that you invite physical people into your homes as well as virtual ones, along with the accessibility and the democracy, and the design, that Airbnb brings to the process."

Airbnb was founded in 2008 by Rhode Island School of Design graduates Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky as a site that would allow travellers to stay in ordinary homes instead of hotels. "We've kept the feeling of being at home anywhere," said Chesky during an interview with Dezeen in January.

"Their interest is really in connecting people," said Crawford. "They come from a design background, they understand the point of it."

This year's London Design Festival will take place from 13 to 21 September, and will include a series of installations at the V&A museum along with exhibitions and events across the city.

Portrait of Ilse Crawford is by Stef Bakker.

  • williamgb

    I used Airbnb for a stay in NYC. Experience leading edge design? I think not – the place was a dump with serious issues about electrical overload; I would never do that again, thank you. Fresh design, yeah, right.