A few months ago, Cooper San Francisco moved to a new studio. We love our bright, open, airy digs, as the iconic view of Coit Tower and the Bay.

As with any move or renovation, there were hiccups. For example, we planned to feature strips of color on each project room door to correspond with Cooper’s color pallette. The colors looked good on paper but on the doors, they looked drab and pastel. We initially planned to name our conference rooms after the colors. However, many of the colors looked similar, and it was difficult to find differentiated names that made sense.

Room Colors

Alas, we were faced with the challenge of bringing energy and vibrancy into conference rooms without relying too heavily on the color scheme, and we needed a new concept for naming conference rooms. This created an opportunity for creativity and community-building. 

We conducted two workshops:

1) We wanted to honor the original concept, and leverage the color palette as inspiration for room names. We created an ideation activity, which we turned into a game, which we played at our staff holiday party. We prepared a party favor bag, each with a different color stapled to it, and set them at stations around the room. We divided participants into groups, and had each group stand at a different station. We then yelled out a prompt, e.g. “What does this color make you taste/smell?” We gave the groups two minutes to write words that came to mind between the color and the prompt. At the end of two minutes, we switched stations, and prompts.  

The result was eight bags filled with heaps of hilarious words and phrases, ranging from “Creamsicle,” to “Friend Zone,” to “Denim.”

We loved the words, but realized that they didn’t intuitively match with the colors, nor did they represent Cooper in a meaningful way.

2) We wanted to leverage the good thinking from the first activity. To this end, we sent out a list of the words from the eight bags, and asked Cooperistas to vote for their favorites. At lunchtime we split up into three large groups, and asked each to review the words conjured up at the party, and identify themes. Food, whimsical phrases, and inventions seemed to be favorite themes. Through synthesis, we recognized that people wanted to do something specific to the Bay Area, and that demonstrated Cooper’s culture and practice, but was humorous and thoughtful. 

Potential Room Names

Now for meaning. We are proud that Cooper invented many of the tools used in modern-day design practice, including personas. We are also proud that Cooperistas have been awarded 19 patents over the years. We innovate products, companies, industries. At our core, we are inventors! This -- and the words “denim” (from workshop #1) and “popsicle” (from workshop #2) -- sparked the idea of naming conference rooms after Bay Area inventions.

Thus, our conference rooms are named: 

  • Fortune Cookie
  • Denim
  • Bendy Straw
  • Popsicle
  • Jukebox
  • Squeegee
  • Mai Tai
  • Martini

To create vibrancy in the visual design of each room, we designed posters for each invention. We incorporated more saturated versions of the colors featured on the doors into the posters. The posters feature the name of the conference room (in our brand typeface, Sofia Pro) as well as a little blurb about how, when, and where these items were created.

The posters relied heavily on photography. The photographic images matches our brand. Our goal when looking for these photos is to find an image that is surprising -- no cheesy stock photos allowed. We aimed for a photo that is very object-oriented with a flat background color. We also pulled in a few “Memphis” style elements (squiggly lines, squares, circles, etc) to balance out the posters. The layouts are diverse, but consistent where it matters.

The finishing touch to bring a bit more life to the conference rooms was creating fun icons for each of the rooms based on their names. With the posters as a foundation for the icons, we created thick outlined icons with rounded corners for each of the rooms. Putting these icons on the door made the strip of color on the doors feel like they had a bit more purpose and intention.

Finished Rooms

We hope you will come and see the conference rooms, and our studio for yourself.