An entrepreneur from an early age, Joe Gebbia is the co-founder and CPO of Airbnb and has served on the company’s Board of Directors and Executive staff. Airbnb’s groundbreaking service began in Gebbia’s San Francisco apartment and spread to 2,000,000 listings in more than 191 countries, creating a new economy for thousands of people around the world. He is involved in crafting the company culture, shaping the design aesthetic, and innovating future growth opportunities. His lifelong appreciation for art and design led him to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he earned dual degrees in Graphic Design and Industrial Design.
In the end – be kind. Be generous. Fast can be better than slow. Slow can be better than fast. Positivity matters. Avoid pretension; deal plainly.
Joe on Design Culture at Airbnb
How important is design culture at Airbnb? How has it evolved from since the company’s inception?
I think design culture has been one of the key parts of Airbnb’s growth and global expansion. Before, there were existing websites where a person could go and rent rooms, but I think one of the things that really differentiated us was that we designed a more intuitive visitor [singular] interface to reach those groups that are seeking accommodations.
We lowered the bar for entry for people to try a new way to travel, and we made it easier for people to book rooms and stay at places around the world. but I really think it was because of design that people felt more comfortable to say, “Well, I think I’ll try this new way of accommodation, I’ll stay with someone I haven’t met yet.” Design was the tool for us to communicate the levels of trust people need to make that decision.
What has surprised you about the success of the company? Did you always expect Airbnb to become what it is today?
Airbnb has been a total dream come true. It has exceeded our wildest expectations. It’s just so enjoyable to see that the effort that goes into crafting good design and caring for all the details was worth it. It is worth it, to put in all that effort, to do what designers are responsible for doing, to be the best designers in the world they possibly can be, and it doesn’t matter if that’s a product, it doesn’t matter if it’s a service, an app, a website, an installation, a chair — that’s our job as designers, to put the best design and best aesthetic out in the world that we possibly can.
Read more on designboom.