Airbnb: Design Language System

For the past few years, I have used Airbnb to rent unique homes and spaces for trips around the country, and even internationally. Airbnb is a¬†global online marketplace and hospitality service. Its’ members can use the service to book or offer lodging or tourism experiences. With 150 million users, 640,000 hosts, and four million listings in more than 65,000 cities, this company is a force of nature in our fast-paced, digital culture. Without ownership of a single residence, Airbnb is now titled the world’s largest hotel chain. Apart from their massive business success, I’ve always really admired AirBnB for its user experience. Their web page and applications are visually consistent, clean, and appealing. It’s easy to navigate through the thousands of housing options and honestly, really delightful. All the photos and descriptions are high quality. They demand the best from their hosts to match their overall, cohesive brand. Sometimes, I find myself up late at night scrolling through the dreamy vacation destinations, gorgeous flats and other unique lodging experiences. Recently, however, my appreciation for AirBnb and their layout has grown exponentially since I stumbled upon a website called Airbnb design. On it, the company’s diverse team of designers share about the creation of their design language system, also referred to as DLS, which is the common visual language they plan to communicate more effectively with their customers. In the process, the designers wanted to created platforms that were “unified,” “universal,” “iconic,” and “conversational.” They created a foundation that “loosely defined our typography, colors, icons, spacing and information architecture. The foundation proved essential for guiding our work in a unified direction while allowing room for us to individually explore creative design solutions.” Their process of their style is laid out. Karri Saarinen, a principal designer at Airbnb, runs through his design process and the lessons learned. He expresses, “A unified design language should not just be a set of static rules and individual atoms, but an evolving ecosystem.” The reason for setting up a clear DLS is to set a solid ground to continue to grow upon. Throughout this platform,, the company shares valuable information behind their process, design challenges and topics, and overall displays the intentionality behind their design. I deeply appreciate that Airbnb recognizes the power that design has in businesses and marketing and seeks to better their user experience.

color and typeface library

platform navigation

high quality lifestyle & home photos

common visual language

Discussion — One Response

  • Joseph Briggs 04/24/2019 on 10:08 PM

    I think that AirBnB has an incredible graphic presence as well. They have done an incredible job of establishing a rule system that allows for play in their branding. I feel like this is really important for companies to achieve, for they are able to create an identity that immediately alerts the viewer what company is advertised without need to say it loud. Headspace is another company that utilizes this to their advantage. They also have a website on their designs and design process. I think that the transparency of these companies to reveal their design process is also really cool. Especially when so much of what we learn about design is by breaking down other peoples processes. So, the greater insight we have into other designers, the less we have to reinvent the wheel. Additionally, they can set the standard for what is necessary to be a graphically aware company in the contemporary setting.

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