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.
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.MR