Grand Designs Australia: Up In The Air

Grand Designs Australia: Up In The Air


Bringing your work home with you is not ideal, but if you must, take a leaf out of Airbnb’s book and create a space to inspire your creative spirit

You may have overheard people talking about Airbnb, and chances are you’re about to hear even more people talking about this new phenomenon. Founded in 2008, Airbnb is a continuously expanding community of like-minded individuals where, much like a hotel but with a communal sensibility, people offer up a room in their home for a sum to visitors from around the globe.

Today, the service is used in more than 34,000 cities and 191 countries. But it’s not strictly reserved for travellers seeking unique experiences. If you’ve got a spare room or granny flat, you might consider putting your space up for hire for some extra cash.

From modest beginnings, Airbnb has experienced a recent explosion in popularity, which, in turn, has led to the company’s Sydney team searching for new digs. The new space in design-savvy Surry Hills is an informal and inviting workplace oozing with style and fun. “Design is deeply embedded in [our] culture,” says Airbnb Australia country manager, Sam McDonagh. “Two of our co-founders are designers, and an appreciation of the power of design is in everything we do. This is reflected in the unique layout of all of Airbnb’s global offices.”

Commissioning local Sydney design studio The Bold Collective, Airbnb issued a brief that revolved around creating a workplace that both enables and encourages the existing culture of the team to thrive. Well-known for its daring choices, The Bold Collective met the brief and then some — and we can’t find any faults.

Australia’s beach and sports culture was clearly an influence and in contrast to the secure entrance, the interior space is open plan, spacious and casual. Each room/designated area is inspired by actual listings on the Airbnb website. Picked by the Sydney team themselves, there is a Kangaroo Valley room, Havana dining room and Swedish sitting room. In good company is the beach-style kitchen, which drew inspiration from the recently renovated Coogee Pavilion in Sydney.

Proof that style, innovation and environmental responsibility can harmoniously coexist, many of the materials used were upcycled and sourced locally. Turn-of-the-century timber panelling was salvaged from fence posts in a Vaucluse Federation house, while corrugated iron cladding in the Kangaroo Valley room originates from a house in Darlinghurst. According to Sam, Airbnb is “deeply committed to the design process, authentic and locally sourced materials, sustainability and supporting local designers”. Clearly.

Originally from magaine, Volume 5 Issue 3
Written by Holly Cunneen
Photography by James Horan