Visit to IDEO

We took a trip to IDEO yesterday with Marty, to talk mainly about prototyping and see their space. It's interesting to experience the difference in culture between firms. Last semester, I visited Doblin to do some exercises and understand their space and atmosphere. Though both tackle "design" problems in somewhat similar fashions, IDEO seems more homey, open to individual exploration projects and collaboration. I was a bit surprised when our guide mentioned that people don't even really get assigned seating...they get grouped up by project and given a space to work in for up to months at a time (for the duration of the project). Doblin seemed a bit stark and institutionalized in comparison. That's not to say by any means one way is better than another... just an interesting difference. In general, companies interested in design seem to have very relaxed and comfortable atmospheres, often containing full service kitchens, free beverages (sometime alcoholic even), and space to "be creative" (doodling, chalk or whiteboard walls, interesting colors and patterns, lots of natural light, etc. I noticed this was true at Motorola's offices and Leo Burnett too, which is nice to see this care taken across different disciplines and applications of design (product vs. marketing).