That experience was one of the reasons why Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia was inspired to launch his own line of furniture designed for changing workplaces. The modular line, from Bernhardt Design, can be reconfigured easily based on a company's needs.
Gebbia showed off the furniture at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York on Monday. The line, called Neighborhood, consists of couches, tables, and rolling ottomans. The couches come with either high backs, which create more privacy, or low backs, which have the option of seating on both sides. They can be arranged straight or in curving patterns, and end seats can be covered with a table surface.
The couches are made almost entirely of soft fabric, which allows them to absorb as much sound as possible. Like the tables, they have outlets built right in--"a must these days," Gebbia says.
Gebbia, of course, is no stranger to design. He and his fellow co-founder, Brian Chesky, graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design before founding the company with Nathan Blecharczyk.
"I've experienced firsthand the disconnect between furniture, their environments, and the way people work," Gebbia says. Over the past few years, he took notes about the types of furniture that would suit his company, sketching out designs in his spare time.
When Gebbia was introduced to Bernhardt president Jerry Helling last year, the two decided to collaborate. The resulting product hits the market in September through the company's online store. As for colors, Helling says that options aren't limited. "The entire rainbow," he says. All of Gebbia's royalties will go to the Rhode Island School of Design's scholarship fund.
Airbnb is already in the process of installing the furniture in all 22 of its global locations. Gebbia sees the line as especially useful to startups that grow rapidly, even if it's not as quickly as that of his 2,300-employee company. "There's no reason any company should be limited by its physical environment," he says.