Airbnb co-founder Gebbia launches Samara Backyard product
US: Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia has launched the inaugural product from his latest venture Samara – Backyard – which is adding small homes to people’s backyards.
Co-founded by Gebbia and Mike McNamara, Samara started out in 2016 as a blue sky product R&D team within Airbnb with the purpose of thinking critically about the future of living. The team explored a wide variety of products along the way, but found that the most actionable and necessary business model was centred around the creation of housing, which has led to the creation of Backyard.
Backyard is designed to be a transformational, flexible dwelling, offering clean and timeless design and customisable floor plans and colours that complements one’s main home. Through its multi-use flexible layouts, Backyard can change in purpose and evolve with consumers’ lives, helping those who are seeking to expand their family or those creating a new income stream through a rental space.
Initially, Backyard will launch in California as its inaugural market, with thought given to the imminent housing crisis and rapidly increasing cost of living in the state. With regulations already in place to facilitate the densification of the state, California will allow Samara to have an immediate impact on people’s lives because accessory dwelling units [ADUs] are now considered a homeowner’s right by law.
With solar energy offsetting, additional living space, the ability to create new revenue streams through rental and more, a Backyard unit can significantly increase a property’s worth while allowing residents to optimise the space outside of their primary home.
Through the Backyard product, Samara is setting out to improve the way in which we live, starting by holistically reimagining the home. The brand design products are a way of aspiring to a “brighter future, balancing beauty, sustainability and simplicity”, according to its team, and the offerings consisting of both studio and one-bedroom units are being precision-built using “highly durable, environmentally-considerate” materials that are not readily available to most builders.
Additionally, Samara will seamlessly manage the construction process from end-to-end, including surveying, permitting, unit fabrication and installation, ensuring Backyards unit are completed quickly, within budget, and with minimal disruption to consumers’ homes. Backyard dwellings are therefore designed to last a lifetime.
At the time of launching, Backyard is available in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, with studio units starting at $289,000 and one-bedroom units start at $329,000, including installation costs.
In 2018, it was announced that Airbnb would launch the Backyard home design initiative in 2019, described as “an endeavour to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes”, and that its first test units would be distributed in the same year.
In 2019, Airbnb hired Apple industrial design group member Miklu Silvanto to lead its Samara design studio project and specifically head up the industrial and interaction design team at Backyard.
Meanwhile in July of this year, Gebbia wrote a public letter confirming that he was stepping back from his full-time operating role at Airbnb to spend more time with his family and take up new projects.