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Airbnb Gets ‘Creative’

5 November 2015

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories. Follow @Rakewelltweets.

For so long, Rakewell believed ‘unicorn’ startup Airbnb was a website, offering apartment sharing for the thrifty traveller. But to judge by a press email that dropped into his inbox yesterday morning, nothing could be further from the truth.

‘Airbnb is a community of creatives, from hosts that use income from Airbnb to support their creative endeavours to guests who travel to inform their artistic process’, says company co-founder Joe Gebbia.

To demonstrate this, the company – sorry, ‘trusted community marketplace’ – is now commissioning its own art and design projects. Suspend your syntactical prejudices now: this is about to get confusing.

For this year’s Design Miami/, apartment sharing startup Airbnb has hired the talents of Chicago’s Design With Company to create an ‘interactive installation’ called Belong. Here. Now. According to the blurb, it will ‘come alive with experiences created by some of the world’s most exciting, up-and-coming creatives across a variety of mediums, from food to music, illustration to furniture. The moments will be ever changing so attending guests will experience something new each time they return.’

Design With Company elaborates: ‘A lot of our work looks at the intersection of narrative and architecture, or how physical space and storytelling collide… working with Airbnb on this project is a great marriage of many of the ideas we are passionate about.’ It will, apparently, ‘create a sense of playful comfort for visitors, while prompting them to think differently about space.’

Which is indeed a very ‘creative’ way of describing what appears to be a bunch of ersatz neoclassical ruins arranged in a circle, if the press photos are anything to on. It seems rather less an ‘intersection’ between narrative and architecture than a complete bypass.


Not that Rakewell’s hometown is any less well served by linguistically challenging ‘interactive installations’. The Rake points any Londoner who feels they might be missing out in the direction of the Architectural Association School of Architecture, which has invited French artist Didier Faustino to set up what looks like a giant fluorescent hedgehog outside its Bedford Square HQ.

According to the press blurb, ‘the architecture is presented here as the desire for its inscription as a sign in a public area. Its monochrome platform invites events and performances, as well as providing a “speakers’ corner” for public use. Didier Faustino therefore remains committed to architecture closest to the body by here again questioning its status in a public area.’

And what could be clearer? Google Translate is ever so efficient these days.

But the Rake digresses. So mystified is he by the phrase ‘playful comfort’ that he is seriously contemplating flying out to Florida to decode it. It’s a dilemma. To Airbnb or not to Airbnb? That is the question.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets

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