• 07.08.14

Airbnb Asks Top Designers To Rethink The Modern Home

Designers reimagine domestic bliss, with fold-up rooms, a custom “smell of home” fragrance, and more.

Airbnb Asks Top Designers To Rethink The Modern Home

In September, the London Design Festival will turn Trafalgar Square into a showcase for a new way of living. The festival partnered with Airbnb to ask four design studios–Studioilse, Jasper Morrison, Patternity, and Raw Edges–to reinterpret the concept of a home, prompting them to imagine a pop-up house people would never want to leave. The designs offer a unique–if sometimes abstract–take on what we want out of our domestic space.


Jasper Morrison created a home for a “pigeon fancier,” a use well-suited to the location–Trafalgar Square used to be so dense with pigeons, London’s then-mayor Ken Livingstone spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on hawks to scare them away. The design is intended to please a person of simple pleasures–one who would want to live among portraits of pigeons and have roosting boxes on the roof. “Who else would choose to live in the middle of Trafalgar Square?” Morrison asks. Valid point.

Jasper Morrison

Ilse Crawford of Studioilse wants to ask visitors, “What does home mean to you?” Recordings of domestic sounds like kettles boiling, doors slamming, and cutlery rattling will play in the background as visitors enter. Films projected on the wall will show domestic rituals from around the world. Visitors will sniff a custom fragrance that’s actually called “the smell of home,” designed especially for the project by perfume designer Azzi Glasser.

Patternity, a group that focuses on using pattern in engaging ways, will set up three giant kaleidoscopes. The designers envision the circles, lines, triangles and squares in the kaleidoscopes reflecting the fundamental building blocks of life.

Raw Edges

The London-based designers at Raw Edges created a design for a tiny house that uses a version of the movable archival storage systems found in research libraries and records offices. Three different panels can be moved to reveal different interior spaces. As one room is revealed, the other rooms fold away–the bed folds up and a lounge hammock unfolds instead, for instance, and the wallpaper and curtains change. Unlike the rest of the concepts, this seems like a home people might actually live in.

‘We all live in a house and are conscious of other people’s homes,” says Ben Davis, director of the London Design Festival. “This project offers four contrasting ideas of home that will make you think more about how you live with design.”

“A Place Called Home” will be on display in Trafalgar Square during the London Design Festival, from September 13-21.

About the author

Shaunacy Ferro is a Brooklyn-based writer covering architecture, urban design and the sciences. She's on a lifelong quest for the perfect donut.