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Jonathan Calugi has quite the reputation for uniting figures together. At One Airbnb, Airbnb’s San Francisco gathering of employees from around the world, the spotlight centred on celebrating individuality whilst championing a sense of belonging. So naturally, Jonathan’s sinuous one-line illustrations emerged as an organic fit for connecting and celebrating diversity. “Jonathan played a fundamental role in bringing One Airbnb 2017 to life,” says Airbnb Creative Director Andrew Schapiro. Selecting him to contribute illustration to the entire visual communications for the three-day conference, Jonathan’s work was brought to life across screen-based content, print, ambient graphics and merchandise.
“Jonathan’s whimsical illustrations beautifully capture the energy and spirit of our global team. He went above and beyond to deliver work that resonates with our entire team“ declares Andrew. “Everyone from our CEO down has shared excitement about how perfectly the branding of the event tells the story of our company today and evokes a sense of togetherness as we come together as one.“What better way to convey the multilayered narratives of wide-ranging individuals moving, mingling and relating than Jonathan’s strong, line illustrations?
This simple yet iconic aesthetic is an effortless declaration of Airbnb’s forward-facing outlook and focus on human connection. Yet Jonathan’s visual simplicity shields the project’s complexity. With a narrow time frame to deliver five original graphics and a further set of individual portraits illustrating the unique characteristics of each employee, a meticulous plan was required. So how did Jonathan navigate the work?
Using just one singular line, a breadth of teams across offices around the world are connected with vivid detail. The line turns and twists to reveal a new detail for the viewer to observe with every fresh look, whilst bright pops of colour punctuate the artwork with joyful tempo. Jonathan is no stranger to finely-tuned designs, but in this expansive artwork every element has been fastidiously considered.
As the diverse characters collectively unite to face in the same direction, One Airbnb’s message is voiced loud and clear. Although this year’s One Airbnb saw a significant increase in employees attending, Jonathan’s image celebrates their individuality and explores the exciting possibilities of their connection as one.
Developing the simplicity of his new style even further, Jonathan created two further abstract patterns. The first consisting purely of swirling lines reminiscent of the curvilinear figures and the second a concise mirror of the colourfully hued shapes of heads and objects playfully bounding in space. These patterns were cleverly repeated for visual communication from presentation graphics to souvenir bags.
The finishing touch? In a nod to previous employee events where guests received a unique illustration of themselves, this year Airbnb wanted to repeat the feat, only on a bigger scale! With twice as many attendees as at the last One Airbnb and only a matter of weeks to create the images, Jonathan was game to illustrate hundreds of individualised portraits. Despite the gargantuan scale of the project, this gesture evidences every person’s significant part in the whole of Airbnb. Jonathan’s contemporary finish and sleek line style fittingly convey the brand’s own development in refining its direction and advancing towards future goals.