AMA: Karri Saarinen, Designer - Creating Design Systems at Airbnb

almost 7 years ago from Karri Saarinen, Design System Lead at Airbnb

  • Kieran RheaumeKieran Rheaume, almost 7 years ago

    Thanks for joining us today Karri.

    One can comfortably consider Airbnb a design-driven organization, and I'm curious to hear how this manifests into the company's working environment. In your experience, are designers at Airbnb given more representation/respect than at other agencies/product companies you've worked at? Do you find other disciplines (operations, marketing, etc.) adopting design principles across the company?


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    • Karri SaarinenKarri Saarinen, almost 7 years ago

      Hi Kieran,

      There is definitely more understanding what is design and how it works that many other companies. I think this mainly since the 2 of the 3 founders are designers by training.

      I’d also agree that Airbnb is much more design driven organization. Design and exploration, is almost always considered the first step, and ongoing process, in any project we do. It’s not an after-though. We also pair the design with research, so we make informed decisions before we start building things.

      Design thinking, appreciation for craft, and storytelling is something that visible in our marketing, operations and even the keynotes we do. I think the office design has been also a way to communicate the design mindset. They really want make it feel a good place to work and collaborate.

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