Airbnb co-founder needed a tiny prefab. He built Backyard ADU

In 2015, Airbnb cofounder Joe Gebbia wanted a backyard house, but couldn’t find anything he liked, so he decided to get into the business of creating and selling ADUs. Seven years later, he has launched Backyard, an -grid steel prefab that comes in 5 colors and 2 sizes (a 430-square-foot studio and a 550-square-foot one-bedroom).

Gebbia “stepped aside” from Airbnb this past summer, but while still there, he started an innovation team to “think of the next big ideas.” “One of those ideas was based around us hearing from hosts that they wanted to be part of Airbnb, but they didn’t have space in their home, but they had room in their backyard,” he explained to us this week. “And while I’m hearing this feedback from hosts over the years, I myself, at one point, looked for a beautifully designed ADU for my own personal use, and I didn’t see anything, and it planted a tiny seed in my mind.”

That in-house innovation team is now its own company, Samara (co-run by Gebbia), and they are launching in California, the state at the forefront of making it easier for homeowners to add backyard homes to their property. Gebbia says wants to make things even easier by handling the entire process, from surveys and permits to installation. As more and more states pass laws facilitating ADUs, Gebbia argues, “I think it’s becoming someone’s right to have an ADU in the backyard.”

They have dropped their first Backyard unit on the Eames Ranch in Petaluma, California, where Gebbia and the famed designers’ granddaughter Llisa Demetrios launched the Eames Institute for Infinite Curiosity. Gebbia first discovered the Eames’ work in design and hopes his new venture will be “something that Charles and Ray would be proud of, something that found the form and function intersection.”

For Gebbia, that means a product that can someday achieve efficiencies of scale and make housing more and less wasteful but also something that doesn’t “look like a UFO in your backyard.”

Eames Institute for Infinite Curiosity: https://www.eamesinstitute.org/
Samara: https://www.samara.com/

On *faircompanies: https://faircompanies.com/videos/airbnb-co-founder-needed-a-tiny-prefab-he-built-backyard-adu/

20 Comments

  1. He has great admiration for the Eames work ethos and design process and wishes to emulate them. His project is nice, another builder in the tiny home space. However his business ethos is no match for how the Eames created during their lifetime. They were focused on human centred design with the aim of democratising design for the masses. On the other hand his ethos is marred by his business past and the impact it has had on homelessness across the world. That is the issue with his narrative in this video, it seems out-of-touch and self centred. I can’t believe he really cares.

  2. AirBnB European headquarters is in Dublin. AirBnB is finally banned from operating in Dublin after years of destroying the already tenuous rental market. AirBnB is a plague.

  3. i really like this cinematographic and audio style too . the Dirksen’s are iconic at this point . Adding them fully in more shots is great to see and hear 🔥

  4. Pretty sure the operative term here is “douchebag”. LOVE this channel, you guys are amazing. I even like some of the design philosophy in this episode. Just can’t stand this tech bro ding dong. And good grief – their tiny homes cost > $600/sf!?!

  5. Sorry but he disrupt nothing…i call BS this story…
    300 K for a tiny house?!? And you must had backyard…rofl…
    Here in France with a good architects and 300K you have/made some pretty smart and designed house/villa… backyard included…
    He need to go back to work, this is Bad…not smart…not affordable…resolve nothing…just some house toy for rich people who want even more, greed at best….
    And i even don’t talk about Airbnb…

  6. 18:27 “This had never been done before” John Henry Belter, ca. 1860 was producing plywood molded furniture. He had a patent dated 1858.

  7. Airbnb is the biggest threat to viable communities! Hope that municipalities in several countries will ban or limit the possibility of converting homes to Airbnb or building…that is, making money from renting!

  8. Wooh! Almost 50% of people are downvoting this video. As of this comment, 1,016 upvotes and 909 downvotes. What’s with all the downvotes?

  9. Lovely though it is ‘BackYard’ at an All-in cost starting at $289,000 (€278,493.69) you could build an extension, decorate it & still have a fair chunk of change for other things.

  10. After what Airbnb did to housing around the world, I can’t believe that this man has no introspection on that but he has a small cabin for the price of a house.

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