Airbnb just bought Lapka. The apartment rental and travel company needs no introduction. Lapka, on the other hand, probably does: It’s a tiny Russian design studio that makes odd but beautiful sensor-centric gadgets, like this sleek smartphone-assisted breathalyzer, and wooden and ceramic blocks that capture environmental data like radiation and humidity. More recently, Lapka unveiled a set of concept sensor nodes created for Google’s modular Ara phone.
Clues about what this partnership might yield are scant. Airbnb says this acquisition has to do with bringing Lapka’s unique talents on board, and does not signal that Airbnb will be venturing into device manufacturing—in other words, don’t expect to start seeing Airbnb-branded breathalyzers in your next European flat rental. Joe Gebbia, co-founder and chief product officer, says via email: “Since the moment Lapka launched their first product,”—that’s the Personal Environment Monitor—“I have been inspired by their impressive design sensibilities—a combination of beauty, form, and story. These guys have tenacity and drive towards creating the future, and I’m thrilled to get to work alongside them at Airbnb to create a world where people can belong anywhere.”
Airbnb declined to comment further at this time—and is not disclosing the terms of the deal—but on Lapka’s blog, founder Vadik Marmeladov writes: “At Lapka, we were unconcerned with investing in a particular device, service, category or direction. Instead, we focused on creating an adaptable lifestyle brand where people can engage comfortably and enthusiastically…we never intended to build ‘medical devices,’ ” and, “what we’re capable of building together is beyond explanation, so let’s leave that for later news. The future is long.”
Without over-hypothesizing, it’s clear that Airbnb will be able to help Lapka realize its goal of delivering high-end industrial design to the masses, all while creating even more seamless travel experiences for its users.Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.