There are many ways for a startup to burn through $326 million in venture capital. You could hire lobbyists, grease political levers, launch a 24/7 hotline for complaints from the disrupted, and even build a conference room for software developers modeled after the War Room in Dr. Strangelove. Airbnb opted for ALL OF THE ABOVE.
San Francisco magazine says the room, which has its own Foursquare listing, is all part of the "arms race" for inspirational office space so you will never (ever ever) stop working. How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bubble—just don't forget how this movie ends.
The cinematic homage isn't the only affect in Airbnb's new offices at 888 Brannan Street in Soma. It also features a Skee-Ball machine. An infantilizing extravagance? Hardly, says Metropolis magazine. It's a riff off an early listing that tried to sell a Skee-Ball machine as sleeping quarters, making Airbnb new workplace "game section" muy authentico.
There's even a replica of "the living room of the founders' original Rausch Street apartment, faithfully copied down to the lucky red velvet Jesus statue," in case you were wondering whether Airbnb's cofounders gave themselves enough credit.
The architects behind this wallpaper war sound every bit as self-aggrandizing as their clients, by San Francisco magazine's account:
"There were times when we were challenged as architects to push the limits more than other clients would ask us to," says Lisa Bottom, a principal at Gensler, the global design firm behind the Airbnb and Facebook offices. "But our job was to be an enabler of their company's culture."
After all, when work-is-life-is-work, getting compensated for your labor is a secondary concern:
"It's not enough to give employees a big paycheck and a Ping-Pong table anymore. You can only throw so much money at people," says David Galullo, chief executive officer of the branding and design firm Rapt Studio.
The architects brush off the memory of abandoned ping pong tables and Aeron chairs rolling down the hills of San Francisco:
"A lot of gimmicky design—silly furniture for silly furniture's sake—came out of the last dot-com boom," says Collin Burry, design director at Gensler. "That world is kind of trite now; that irrational exuberance is tired."
All that effort put into Airbnb's headquarters and no one installed a mirror.
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[Image via Metropolis magazine]