Airbnb Hires Apple Industrial Designer Miklu Silvanto

Airbnb’s offshoot design studio Samara has recently recruited Apple former industrial veteran designer Miklu Silvanto to head the company’s newly launched project. This happens to be another major loss of employee for Apple’s industrial design group.

Last year, Samara launched a house building initiative, which presents new methods of home design, building and sharing homes that is most suited to the new modes of living. The initiative was launched as an offshoot of the company’s three-year-old in-house design studio. And the focus of launching Samara was on house building projects, which includes architecture, service design, and software engineering. Two years later, Backyard initiative was established as a channel to explore fresh methods for the architecture and construction industry.

While announcing the Backyard initiative, Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia stated that the methods and processes of building are now very much outdated, and as such, generates lots of waste. “In order to meet the demands of the future, whether it is climate displacement or rural-urban migration, the home needs to evolve, to think forward,” Gebbia said.

Silvanto, who is leaving Apple’s industrial design department after 8 years, will be assigned to lead the industrial and interaction design team at Backyard. Gebbia added that he hired Silvanto to team up with an eclectic team of architects, roboticists, filmmakers, urban planners at Backyard. He will also be meeting mechanical and hardware engineers, energy specialists and policy experts.

Commenting on the quality of team Airbnb has assembled at Backyard, Gebbia described the company’s integrity as being fascinating and mind-blowing. “They’re applying this thoughtful, bold mindset to problems of incredible complexity and scale,” Gebbia said. Concerning the results achieved so far with Samara, Gebbia said they are equally exciting.

Gebbia holds a dual degree in Graphic and Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).  In 2008, Gebbia co-founded Airbnb with fellow design graduate Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky.

Silvanto responded well to the prospect of working on the Samara project as the company plans to roll out housing designs in the third quarter of 2019. “Samara has a huge ambition that will be very difficult to carry out, but it’s exactly the kind of big, crazy gamble that these kinds of companies should be taking,” Silvanto said. “The nature of the work and the creative approach we’re taking make me optimistic for the future.”

Silvanto was born in Helsinki, Finland and he studied Industrial Design at Lahti Institute of Design located north of the city. He proceeded to the London’s Royal College of Art, where he obtained a masters degree in Design Products in 2008.

According to the LinkedIn profile of the 38-year-old, Silvanto worked at Apple from 2011 to April this year under the tech company’s chief design officer (CDO) Jonathan Ive. Before joining Apple, he had earlier co-founded and worked with Nordic design agency Aivan in 2007. Credited to Silvanto’s name are lots of Apple design patents including but not limited to the AirPods, Apple Watch, iPhone and other key hardware.

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Christy Gren
Christy Gren is an Industry Specialist Reporter at Industry Leaders Magazine; she enjoys writing about Unicorns, Silicon Valley, Startups, Business Leaders and Innovators. Her articles provide an insight about the Power Players in the field of Technology, Auto, Manufacturing, and F&B.

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