Detail of photo by Stella Kalinina of Product Design alumna Katie Dill at Airbnb.

feature / alumni / product-design
October 16, 2017
Writer: Solvej Schou
Photographer: Stella Kalinina

HQ:SF – Creatives in the Bay Area / Part 1 / Product Design Alumna Katie Dill

San Francisco has changed a lot since 1967’s Summer of Love. Flanked by water and fog, the Northern California city now brims with technology companies and creatives. Meet three very different alums who work and live in and around the golden City by the Bay. Here's part 1.

San Francisco is a city packed with steep hills. So there’s one thing you better have: comfy shoes.

Katie Dill (BS 07 Product Design), director of experience design at thriving online accommodations marketplace Airbnb, has plenty. Good thing too as the native New Yorker, who helped grow Airbnb’s experience design team from 10 people to 100, is rarely at her desk.

On a bright afternoon at Airbnb’s five-floor building in SoMa, an industrial warehouse-filled area south of the city’s main drag Market Street, sunlight filters into the company’s gigantic atrium, framed by a zig-zagging living green wall.

Home is where you belong, and feel like you can belong. San Francisco is awesome in the way that you really have everything right here.

Katie Dill

As usual, Dill has spent the day racing between meetings in her white sneakers.

“Every meeting is in a different room, which keeps my day engaging,” says Dill, taking a break in cozy room the Castro, named after the city’s historic gay neighborhood. All the company’s conference rooms replicate an Airbnb listing.

Employees’ pooches happily roam Airbnb’s hallways, and Dill lights up talking about her own sporty mutt—and work companion—Snacks. “This morning I ran with my dog in the woods,” says Dill, who often rides her motorcycle into work from her and her husband’s duplex in lush Presidio park. "Home is where you belong, and feel like you can belong," says Dill, who moved to the Bay Area immediately after graduating ArtCenter. "San Francisco is awesome in the way that you really have everything right here."

Asked about the tattoo on her wrist—the word “integrity”—she explains that it’s written in the handwriting of her late father, an entrepreneur. Dill grew up building many things with him, including a dog house. He constantly reminded her of the value of high integrity. “He made me a better person,” she says. “It's a word important to me because of him.”

In late October 2017, following this story, Katie Dill began a new position as ride-hailing company Lyft's vice president of design.