Creative Space Philly

Experiencing a community through its murals

Categories: Destinations, Events

Philadelphia is a spirited, creative hub with a visual identity shaped by the murals that cover the city. It was a perfect location for our Philly Creative Space event. Hosted by our design team, Creative Space is a series that explores cities through the lens of creative locals from a wide variety of disciplines. Each event is usually hosted within the listing of an Airbnb creative or at a local hidden gem. 

Underlying the vibrant public art in Philly is a history of socio-economic challenge and community struggle still visible across its many neighborhoods. We met three local muralists who don’t shy away from these difficult social conversations — instead, their work acknowledges these struggles, connecting cultures and lifting up diverse voices.

On the left, a painting of two male faces. On the right, Michelle Angela Ortiz.

“Se Siente El Miedo” 2016 – Michelle Angela Ortiz.

We collaborated with local businesses and artists David Guinn, Michelle Angela Ortiz and Keir Johnston to host a brunch in the loft of a local artist and Airbnb host. They welcomed us to their city and shared their perspectives on public art as a catalyst for storytelling, cultural preservation, and bridge building. The illustration for the event invitation (featured in our article header) were created by local designer, Mike Smith, who conveyed the importance of voice in art as part of a public conversation about neighborhood identity.

On the left, Kier Johnston. On the right, A mural on the side of a building next to a crowded lot.

Keir Johnston with Amber Art & Design & Tatyana Fazlalizadeh – “The Roots Mural”

“Philadelphia isn’t a quiet or an easy city. But no matter what we’re doing we’re doing it with passion and opinion. So much so that even our walls seem to have something to say. That’s the idea we wanted to convey with this piece. It’s not just a mural for the sake of being pretty. It’s the artist’s voice. The neighborhood’s voice. It’s out on the street for every single person to see or to feel.” – Mike Smith

This event introduced members of our design team to the powerful work of local mural artists and sparked new conversations about neighborhood identity, the power of public art and what it means to belong. At Airbnb, design isn’t just about building a beautiful platform, it’s about making space for human connection and listening to our global community in order to facilitate better offline experiences.

“Philadelphia isn’t a quiet or easy city. But no matter what we’re doing we’re doing it with passion and opinion. So much so that even our walls seem to have something to say.

This Creative Space experience showed us how much artists have to teach us when it comes to community collaboration, and how murals both bring people together and shape the communities where we live. Each artist had a unique point of view, shaped by their shared hometown and diverse backgrounds. Their thoughtful perspectives inspired our team members to consider what it means to design in partnership with our communities and experience Philly like locals.

On the left, a neon art sculpture. On the right, David Guinn.

“Percy Street Project” – David Guinn

The event was hosted in a truly local industrial art studio that set the stage for an afternoon of passionate conversations about art and environments. We couldn’t have done it without the gracious hosting of Brandon, delicious local food catered by Chef Rasa of Birchtree  Catering and gorgeous summer fall from Chicory. We were moved by the ability that murals and public art have to create human connection and deepen discussions between individuals about the cultures and identities they value. Over the next few days, we’ll be sharing the stories of each of our featured muralists.

Tables set for dinner.
On the left, a bouquet of flowers. On the right, plates lined up with salads on top.

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