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Design 50

Inside Airbnb's Whimsical New Headquarters

Replicas of Airbnb listings, set design from Dr. Strangelove, and a stuffed bear decorate the company's new San Francisco office.

  • <p>Airbnb has new headquarters, at 888 Brannan Street in San Francisco.</p>
  • <p>For the new offices, the company renovated a century-old warehouse in San Francisco’s SoMA neighborhood.</p>
  • <p>In a statement CEO Brian Chesky says, "the first time we stepped into the atrium, we imagined looking up and seeing a cross section of the very homes that are featured on our site."</p>
  • <p>They meant it literally: the headquarters include exact replicas of eight different Airbnb listings.</p>
  • <p>And for the conference room, the founders built a replica of the War Room from the Stanley Kubrick film <em>Dr. Strangelove</em>.</p>
  • <p>Airbnb asked designer Timothy Goodman (who was one half of the <a href="http://fortydaysofdating.com/" target="_blank">40 Days of Dating project</a>) to create an installation for the dining hall.</p>
  • <p>Using pieces of plywood from the construction, Goodman sketched out 115 drawings that represent experiences had by Airbnb employees.</p>
  • <p>Also in the dining room, a pun on the building's 888 address</p>
  • <p>Cafeteria-style dining tables match the ethos of the open-floor plan.</p>
  • <p>Here, the Balinese room</p>
  • <p>Design firm Gensler rebuilt a single-family Balinese home, complete with tufted chairs and potted plants.</p>
  • <p>To create a feeling of authenticity, they also sourced trinkets from each country that hosts the listing.</p>
  • <p>More tchotchkes</p>
  • <p>The whimsical design even reaches the restrooms.</p>
  • <p>Here, a scene that seems plucked straight from the American Museum of Natural History</p>
  • <p>The rationale behind this level of quirk? "A lot of companies under-invest in their office space, and therefore under-invest in their employees," Chesky says.</p>
  • <p>A recreation of a Paris listing.</p>
  • <p>The idea is, any Airbnb employee can choose to work from this spare, retro-inspired kitchen.</p>
  • <p>The founders also recreated the building's original president's room, from 1917.</p>
  • <p>Here, a replica of an active listing in Milan...</p>
  • <p>...which even includes a bed.</p>
  • <p>A story board of a project currently under wraps, that's internally dubbed "Snow White."</p>
  • <p>Seen here, the original San Francisco apartment that the founders launched Airbnb out of, back in 2008.</p>
  • <p>The Obama-Os boxes are a nod to an earlier entrepreneurial project the founders worked on during the 2008 campaign.</p>
  • <p>More tchotchkes</p>
  • 01 /25

    Airbnb has new headquarters, at 888 Brannan Street in San Francisco.

  • 02 /25

    For the new offices, the company renovated a century-old warehouse in San Francisco’s SoMA neighborhood.

  • 03 /25

    In a statement CEO Brian Chesky says, "the first time we stepped into the atrium, we imagined looking up and seeing a cross section of the very homes that are featured on our site."

  • 04 /25

    They meant it literally: the headquarters include exact replicas of eight different Airbnb listings.

  • 05 /25

    And for the conference room, the founders built a replica of the War Room from the Stanley Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove.

  • 06 /25

    Airbnb asked designer Timothy Goodman (who was one half of the 40 Days of Dating project) to create an installation for the dining hall.

  • 07 /25

    Using pieces of plywood from the construction, Goodman sketched out 115 drawings that represent experiences had by Airbnb employees.

  • 08 /25

    Also in the dining room, a pun on the building's 888 address

  • 09 /25

    Cafeteria-style dining tables match the ethos of the open-floor plan.

  • 10 /25

    Here, the Balinese room

  • 11 /25

    Design firm Gensler rebuilt a single-family Balinese home, complete with tufted chairs and potted plants.

  • 12 /25

    To create a feeling of authenticity, they also sourced trinkets from each country that hosts the listing.

  • 13 /25

    More tchotchkes

  • 14 /25

    The whimsical design even reaches the restrooms.

  • 15 /25

    Here, a scene that seems plucked straight from the American Museum of Natural History

  • 16 /25

    The rationale behind this level of quirk? "A lot of companies under-invest in their office space, and therefore under-invest in their employees," Chesky says.

  • 17 /25

    A recreation of a Paris listing.

  • 18 /25

    The idea is, any Airbnb employee can choose to work from this spare, retro-inspired kitchen.

  • 19 /25

    The founders also recreated the building's original president's room, from 1917.

  • 20 /25

    Here, a replica of an active listing in Milan...

  • 21 /25

    ...which even includes a bed.

  • 22 /25

    A story board of a project currently under wraps, that's internally dubbed "Snow White."

  • 23 /25

    Seen here, the original San Francisco apartment that the founders launched Airbnb out of, back in 2008.

  • 24 /25

    The Obama-Os boxes are a nod to an earlier entrepreneurial project the founders worked on during the 2008 campaign.

  • 25 /25

    More tchotchkes

One of the appeals of Airbnb is in the daydreaming. With a few clicks, you can stay in a beach bungalow in Thailand, or a Brooklyn loft, or a rustic French villa.

Dr. Strangelove, War Room (top), Airbnb (below)

The founders have given their newly opened headquarters the same sense of fantasy. In a century-old, renovated warehouse in San Francisco’s SoMA neighborhood, they’ve rebuilt, tchotchke by tchotchke, eight Airbnb listings. Any of the company's 200 employees can schedule a team meeting in Bali, or camp out for a few hours with a laptop in Milan. They also restored the building's former president's office from 1917, when the warehouse was a battery factory. And, perhaps most audaciously, the Airbnb team converted a pre-existing cylindrical room into a model of the War Room in Stanley Kubrick's 1964 Dr. Strangelove.

"The first time we stepped into the atrium, we imagined looking up and seeing a cross section of the very homes that are featured on our site—immediately knowing, without seeing any logos or signs, that you were at Airbnb," CEO Brian Chesky says in a statement.

It might be a loud way for Airbnb to spend some of the $200 million in funding it raised recently, but the idea of letting a staffer work from an Icelandic-style home, and not an antiseptic office, is consistent with the founders' goal to create novel experiences everywhere. Of course, the place will be coziest for three employees in particular: One of the aforementioned replicated listings is the original San Francisco apartment that the founders launched Airbnb out of, back in 2008.

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