There Are Many Like It, But This One Is Ours

It all started with the Fredrik, a bucket of metallic green paint, and a tough decision. We’ve been sharing offices with some great companies over the last few years, but with a number of new hires it was time to get our own place. It took several weeks of searching before we finally found The One, and set about making it ours.

An offhand joke about painting the columns gold led to several Home Depot trips, A/B testing metallic paint samples, and learning more about the subtle variations of white paint than any of us ever wanted to know.

Building the desks.

Zanab testing paint samples in the jungles of Home Depot.

Ed had been aggressively scouring Craigslist for the Fredrik, a model of standing desk that is no longer in production. After hoarding a critical mass of desks, we decided to pull the trigger.

Shortly after Thanksgiving we grabbed the desks we had collected from the greater New York area, put our computers under our arms, and moved one block north to our new digs.

Building the desks.

Kenn and Ed assemble a desk while Eric works. And yes, we all stand.

In the first few weeks, other than desks, the office was pretty open and empty so we filled it with mind-controlled helicopters and nerf guns. But then came the fridge which we stuffed with tallboys, followed by a teal couch in a shade impossible to describe in words.

The space has since filled up with proper office things and we’ve settled into the ebb and flow of daily startup life. But in the interim something interesting has been happening: the emergence of our own culture.

Things like Burger Friday, where our lunches have become pilgrimages in pursuit of delicious burgers, complete with mandatory punishment for failing to follow the rule: everyone must order a burger.

And Thursday talks, which are basically informal presentations, cover a wide range of topics from bloom filters to the art and science of espresso pulling. Russ recently gave a talk on ballistics, Roman the fundamentals of bitcoins, and Heyjin the visualization intricacies of d3.js.

A Thursday talk on design wouldn’t be complete without pizza and wine.

Outside of weekly events, there are smaller patterns, jokes, and incessantly trolled music videos that have come and gone. Hubot is an integral part of the team and Nagios is chatty as ever, while an endless debate rages over Guild Wars vs. World of Warcraft, and one of us continues to insist that the J.J. Abram’s Star Trek really wasn’t that good.

When we’re not hunting down burgers or crashing helicopters into our faces, the office is blanketed in the quiet hum of concentration and keyboards. There’s a curious rhythm to it all as we move between work and play, the bursts of laughter and activity a counterpoint to the intense focus of building something amazing.

Hard at work.

It’s been fun to see the culture evolve in the short six weeks we’ve been at the new place. The process has been completely organic, a product of the interests and interactions of a very talented group of people. Looking forward to what 2013 will bring.

Good morning! Have a donut.

About Andrea Mignolo

Andrea is a designer person who likes windmills, funny hats, and beer. She is also one of the foremost robot whisperers on the Eastern seaboard.

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