Dezeen Magazine

Airbnb launches internal design studio Samara with future house prototype

Home rentals website Airbnb has launched its own design studio, creating a house of the future for a Tokyo exhibition as its first project (+ slideshow).

Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia – who originally trained as a designer – announced the new branch of the company earlier this week.

Samara project by AirBNB

Called Samara, the studio will focus on projects including architecture, service design and software engineering.

"The mission of this new internal design studio is to develop services and ideas that extend Airbnb's values and vision into new areas," said the company, which Gebbia started with Brian Chesky and Nathan Blecharczyk in 2008.

Samara project by AirBNB

For its debut project, Samara teamed up with Japanese architect Go Hasegawa to design and build a house for Kenya Hara's House Vision exhibition.

Architects including Sou Fujimoto, Atelier Bow-Wow, Kengo Kuma and Shigeru Ban all contributed future house prototypes for the exhibit, which is currently on show in Tokyo.

Samara project by AirBNB

Samara's Yoshino Cedar House is designed to host a community centre on its ground floor and traveller accommodation in its gabled roof.

"The house realises how architectural features can engender a deeper relationship between hosts and guests," Airbnb said.

After the exhibition, the house will be permanently installed in the rural town of Yoshino, where it will become a bookable Airbnb listing that is maintained by the whole local community.

Samara project by AirBNB

Proceeds from guests will be used to benefit the area, which has struggled following the migration of younger residents away from the countryside.

"The team will closely monitor the progress of Yoshino Cedar House and consider expanding this model to rejuvenate similar rural communities around the world," said Airbnb.

Yoshino Cedar House by Samara

"We've sprouted our first seed with the Yoshino Cedar House and we've got a lot more on the way," added Gebbia, who became a part-time design partner at American tech startup incubator Y Combinator last year.

Gebbia and Chesky studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, and set up Airbnb after graduating. In an interview with Dezeen, Chesky said that Silicon Valley "didn't think a designer could build a company", but Airbnb is now bigger than most hotel chains.

Photography is by Edward Caruso.