Editor’s note: in this piece, Xiaoxiao reflects on her experience on Peak2Peak, one of the many Immersion Experiences the iSchool offers. Applications for the spring 2019 trips – EntreTech NYCSpring Break in Silicon Valley, and TechTrek Chicago – are open now!

Company Culture in The Pacific NorthWest

I’m very lucky that I get the chance to visit a lot of companies in west coast area from big firms to small start-ups during Peak2Peak. Different places and different people form different cultures. Seattle is a big city like any other major cities in the states, but also has its own unique vibrance; Portland is a place that mixes suburban scenic view and fresh vibes from high-tech companies.

Both cities have their own charms and are very exciting places for me to experience. As a designer, besides experiencing the atmospheres of different cities and companies, it’s exciting to see the aesthetic aspects of the company and how design and art play important role in forming company cultures.

How Aesthetics Change Culture

While in Seattle and Portland, I paid extra attention to the aesthetics aspects of different companies, such as office environment, decorations, presentation, etc. My observation is most of the companies, whether they are big corporations or small start-ups, all have very unique naming system when they name their office rooms or buildings.

For example, Amazon names their buildings after the person who did the first thing in this field, or the first invention they made.  “The first” or “Day 1” is named after Jeff Bezos statement that “this is the Day 1 for the internet and for Amazon.com”; “Fiona” is named after the launch code name for the kindle e-reader; “Dawson” was named after the street where Amazon’s first fulfillment center was located.

What’s In a Name?

Another good example is Boeing. They divide and name their buildings after continents in the world. They also name their offices after big cities’ names, which makes sense because Boeing is an international company. By naming their offices after continents and cities in the world makes people feel that the whole world is connected through their groundbreaking invention.

Other offices such as PMI (Project Management Institution) name their main conference rooms near the entrance to the office as Hong-Kong, China, Korea, possibly because of its deep connection with Asian market.

Intel has huge office space, accordingly there are a system of signs ordered from A to Z which indicates the direction of the building.

Cloudability names their rooms after the names of the mountains in the Portland region.

Smarsh creates their naming and color system completely based on the metro system of New York. Smarsh also names their conference rooms are named after major cities where run metro system.

A Designer’s Perspective

I found these naming aspects really interesting because it proves that all these companies are not only innovative with their products, but also innovative in these small details that improve their working environment into a better place, which is very exciting for a designer to see.