The sharing economy is well and truly upon us. It’s already changed the way we get around through services like Uber and bike and car sharing schemes it’s increasingly affecting the way we see our property too. In the home space, sites like AirBnB give people the chance to monetise their extra rooms (or properties), and the local uptake has been impressive. There are currently over 6,000 listings in South Africa (mostly in the Western Cape) and Cape Town Tourism has pointed to growth in visitor numbers using the service for local stays, year on year.

Ilse Crawford, designer and AirBnB collaborator, points to the global success of the service as being part of larger trends. “The bigger thing,” she says, “is that the idea of what’s private and what’s public space is changing.” As we’ve become more comfortable sharing images of our lives on social media, the boundary between public and private space changes. Plus, with the ‘Pinterestification’ of homes we’re seeing people styling their living space as if for an imaginary viewer. It’s no longer simply a select few who get featured in magazines. All of our homes can now be shared for likes on whatever social media or blog we choose.

The underlying motivation for people letting out their homes on AirBnB is, presumably, monetary (48% of hosts use their earnings for regular expenses), but the broader social trends at play are interesting nonetheless. Home is no longer purely private or public, but some new and still to be defined space in-between.



Words: Chris Reid


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