Artists Need Only Apply- Behomm
An artist of any kind is in constant search of inspiration. In an effort to spur their creativity in different parts of the globe, graphic designers Agust Juste and Eva Calduch spent countless hours scouring home exchange websites searching for similar people to swap homes with. Over the years, they grew weary of the time they dedicated to finding the right exchange. Rather than settle or give up, their creative genius led them to a new business venture.
Last March, they launched Behomm — the first home exchange community for professional designers and visual artists, including architects, filmmakers, stylists, photographers, interior designers and the like. “We wanted to connect designers and visual artists with others who wanted to exchange homes with like-minded people — people with a similar passion for beauty and tasteful things … Simple but difficult. We are the client and the target audience at the same time,” Juste explains. “We are very excited with the feedback. People who never thought about swapping now consider the option when they discover they can go to another designer’s home. This is especially popular with architects.”
Behomm, based in Barcelona, Spain, is by invitation only, as a way to avoid anonymous registrations. Those wanting to join are either sent an invitation by a current member or request an invitation be sent to them. The home exchange community allows its members to subscribe to their service for three months at a time or on an annual basis. There is a free trial period. Members can connect to one another through a secure internal system and arrange to exchange their homes for a specific amount of time for free. They have access to an unlimited number of exchanges without incurring any additional fees outside the membership fee. Aside from the monetary savings, Behomm lists a variety of benefits for this group of globetrotters that include the opportunity to enjoy the comforts of a home; get a taste of a different way of life as a local, not a tourist; enjoy a dynamic cultural exchange; make personal connections; and to have your home cared for while you are away.
One San Francisco architect described her experience as “a unique window on the creative, cultured life in another city.” Another exhibition designer from Amsterdam testified “there isn’t such a beautiful collection of homes for exchange anywhere in the world.”Juste and Calduch felt compelled to ensure their new business was socially responsible as well. Behomm donates 5 per cent of its profits to Architecture for Humanity, which seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crises.
Since its inception, Behomm has grown to 700 members or homes. The vast majority of members are located in the United States, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Australia. Members also live in Morocco, Indonesia, New Zealand and Iceland, among other locales. Behomm offers a vast array of dwelling options from apartments and cottages to beach houses and lofts in both urban and rural environments.Juste says, “We have a selection process. This filter is not about luxury and household size. The main rule is good taste … For us, luxury is to be living in someone else’s home in another country and experiencing their customs and way of life.”
Juste warns swapping can become highly addictive and, although he and his partner’s first home exchange experience felt strange, they were soon eager for their next one, which they describe on their website as “a special feeling, like living another life.” Members who agree to an exchange are encouraged to use Behomm’s online agreement and to take advantage of the handful of tips the website offers to ensure a more pleasant experience. In addition to filling out the agreement to avoid misunderstandings, make sure your exchange is with members who are similar to you, with kids or without kids, for example; get to know your guests through emails or Skype; leave your home very clean and in order; and, most importantly, treat your exchange partners as guests. As an added courtesy, they advise not only to thoroughly clean your home but also to leave an exchanger’s home as clean as you found it.
Their future vision for the business, Juste says, is more than finding free accommodations but more about embracing the “shared economy” movement occurring worldwide.“We’d like to grow while keeping the spirit that created Behomm alive — linking up esthetic lovers all over the world so they can share their homes with no exchange of money taking place among them, making the world a more friendly place.”