Ep. 46: Joe Gebbia

Designer, entrepreneur, and Airbnb co-founder, Joe Gebbia. was known as the “art guy” in grade school when he started his first business selling illustrations of Ninja Turtles. Then, while pursuing dual design degrees, he founded his first legit startup with RISD’s basketball team, The Balls. Now as the leader of innovation and ideation at Airbnb he’s focused on exploring new attitudes of sharing and trust. Oh, and don’t tell him he can’t do something. He will go to extremes to prove you wrong. Isn’t that so, Professor Jones?

Listen:

What is your earliest memory?

Building lego monsters on the kitchen floor.

A young Joe in 1985

A young Joe in 1985

How do you feel about democratic design?

Design is a series of decisions that solve a problem. Designers have the option of when to include people in those spectrum of decisions, knowing they will weigh in eventually, either in the beginning to provide insight, or the big test at the end – do they actually use your solution. Your choice.  

What’s the best advice that you’ve ever gotten?

Challenges are gifts.

Joe's clever Crit Buns make any hard surface a more comfortable seat

Joe's clever Crit Buns make any hard surface a more comfortable seat

How do you record your ideas? 

Analog - sketchbook in my back pocket
Digital - Trello

What’s your current favorite tool or material to work with?

My psychology. 

Joe's modular furniture designed for Bernhardt Design

Joe's modular furniture designed for Bernhardt Design

What book is on your nightstand?

Leonardo da Vinci (Issacson)

Why is authenticity in design important?

People are wired to spot the unauthentic.

Chess Set project chair

Chess Set project chair

Favorite restaurant in your city?

Bar Agricole

What might we find on your desk right now?

A 1970’s tape dispenser from a rural village in Japan. 

Joe's modular furniture designed for Bernhardt Design

Joe's modular furniture designed for Bernhardt Design

Who do you look up to and why?

One time when I was 16, I was watching an interview with Warren Buffett. The reporter asked him for a tip on what to invest in. Rather than giving what everyone expected – stock insight or company to put your money in, he said, “Invest in yourself”.

Yoshino Cedar House

Yoshino Cedar House

What’s your favorite project that you’ve done and why?

OpenHomes. It’s Airbnb’s way to provide a roof over the head of people who are in the greatest need of one. www.airbnb.com/openhomes

Yoshino Cedar House. It’s a way for us to help revitalize shrinking rural areas. www.yoshinocedarhouse.com

Yoshino Cedar House

Yoshino Cedar House

What are the last five songs you listened to?

I Feel it Coming (The Weeknd)
Samba e Amor (Bebel Gilberto)
Ohh Wee (Mark Ronson)
Like it or Not (Bob Moses)
Morning Phase (Beck)


Special thanks to Tai Navares for editing this episode.
Music in this episode courtesy of El Ten Eleven—hear more on Bandcamp.
Shoutout to Jenny Rask for designing the Clever logo.