Work–life Balanced

A tranquil tour of our newly redesigned Tokyo Office

Categories: Behind the Scenes

Tokyo is a vibrant city, shaped by a rich cultural history that is heavily influenced by design. It’s also the most densely populated prefecture in Japan, so it’s no surprise that space design was a large challenge for our Tokyo office. For the recent redesign of this office, lead architect Rebecca Ruggles and our Environments Team partnered with local architects at Suppose Office Design and the Airbnb Tokyo team. Together, they created a new space that reflects our global community, traditional Japanese aesthetics and personal employee perspectives that make the space feel welcoming and alive.

Three people sit in a minimal, clean workspace with cubby bookshelves and window benches.

A narrow, well lit hallway with plants and light wood filing cabinets lining the walls.
The former office consisted of a series of corporate suites with limited communal space, which is not uncommon in Tokyo’s busy Shinjuku neighborhood. Redesigning this space began by collaborating with our Tokyo employees who asked for a combination of communal and quiet work spaces and the incorporation of nature as an escape from the chaos of city life. This translated into a more ergonomic interior with height adjustable work spaces, tranquil mini-lounges and a double-height atrium reminiscent of an outdoor cafe bathed in natural light. In keeping with many of our other offices, the new Tokyo office also features interiors inspired by Airbnb listings from around the world. These interiors are decorated with personal items donated by employees and their families that bring with them a powerful sense of belonging.

A woman sits at a desk next to a floor-to-ceiling window, which separates her from a conference room.
For Rebecca Ruggles, the work of designing an Airbnb office is also about preserving cultures and creating experiences in the cities where we are lucky enough to have offices. “When you walk in, you know where you are even without a logo on the door,” she explains, “but we also partner with a local architect like Suppose Design and the local employees to ensure that the design has a true sense of place.” One of the key elements at the new Tokyo office is the Engawa, an elevated platform covered with Tatami mats inspired by traditional Japanese culture where employees can remove their shoes, take a seat and enjoy the spectacular view of Shinjuku. Tea house phone booths are another architectural element of the office, made from local white oak and rice paper film to emulate the soft glow of Japanese tea houses.

Two long dining tables underneath hanging lights.
Tokyo-based designers at Setup created bespoke tables for the office and hand crafted light fixtures were sourced from New Light Pottery. These custom elements, along with the use of Japanese wood and metal, serve to infuse the space with a decidedly Tokyo feeling while supporting local craftspeople. Makoto Tanijiri and Ai Yoshida of Suppose Office Design describe the finished office as a “reflection of the eclectic mix of volumes, textures and patterns that is Tokyo,” that is “meant for people to enjoy.”

Employees at Airbnb Tokyo are already enjoying the 500 square meter space, as well as the new meeting rooms inspired by international listings in Prague, Tijuana, Barcelona and Terrebonne. The team says that this new open and balanced space, alive with plants and natural light has “spurred a whole new level of internal connection and engagement.”

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