With over 1000 staff, the newly opened Airbnb headquarters takes over a 14,000-square metre space in San Francisco.
Airbnb’s Environments team led the project and were able to strip the space down to its bare bones, removing every non-structural element of the building. This fundamentally changed the experience, circulation and material palette of the interior.
The challenge was not to reinvent but instead reveal the essential qualities of the building by emphasizing and articulating its core framework.
The new design focuses on harnessing light from the original glass-brick structure.
The environments team took inspiration for the project from Airbnb Trips, creating a new concept for the company’s office design. Launched in November 2016 Airbnb Trips allows users to book bespoke experiences designed and led by local insiders.
The environments team translated this new feature into a physical space by assigning each floor to a different city: Buenos Aires, Kyoto, Jaipur and Amsterdam, styling each one of the floor’s cafes in relation to that city – from colour, patterns and materials.
Aaron Taylor Harvey, Airbnb environments executive creative director, explains part of the design process “we wanted to bring the same bespoke nuance to this very large space that we brought to the first small office we designed in Portland. We want it to feel like a custom home to every inhabitant.”
Working in collaboration with WRNS, primary work spaces are divided into 16 neighbourhoods with identical components, these accommodate up to 50 people each. Every neighbourhood comprises a desk space with large custom made communal tables and standing desks, three phone rooms, personal storage and a 15 to 30 person garage; a meeting room that can be adapted according to necessities by opening and closing a room divider with a garage door mechanism.
Other key areas in the design include the Castle, made of pinewood strips at the centre of the building, which adds drama to the verticality of the atrium while providing connectivity between floors.
As part of Airbnb’s ongoing global office design strategy, the environments team engaged with local employees in an Employee Design Experience (EDX) program to help add the finishing touches to the design of the meeting rooms. The EDX program enabled employees to re-interpret design components from Airbnb listings into the meeting rooms as well as illustrate elements of San Francisco’s local identity.
“Branding of a space is often approached quite literally, ‘where do we put the logo, how big?’ However, we believe that offices should communicate to employees why they work and not where they work. 999 Brannan takes the ideas we explored in our original office at 888 and intensifies them into an immersive narrative experience that starts at the front door and ends on the 4th floor,” explains Harvey.
Photography by Mariko Reed.
Peruse Airbnb’s Parisian office here.