The spark came in 2013, when Ken and Joe made a trip to San Francisco and toured the newly finished headquarters of lodging-service giant Airbnb. They were there to visit co-founder Joe Gebbia, a friend of Ken's from his time at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
The Airbnb office spans 72,000 square feet, with no expense of money or imagination spared. From the cylindrical, Kubrick-inspired “War Room,” to the meeting rooms recreated from Airbnb’s most popular listings, the building is a revelation of design. Still, Ken and Joe noticed one obvious oversight: many of the immaculate desktops had monitors propped up with an array of shoe boxes and books. They may have improved the posture of the employees, but they were also as precarious as they were unsightly. As Ken recalls, “It was kind of funny how a company founded by design-centric RISD grads had resigned themselves to cardboard.”