"We seek inspiration where
others are afraid to look.
We like solutions,
but we love problems.
We don’t just reach for the stars,
we create them and
Hold on for dear life.
We fight gravity."
In honor of our anniversary, we took a walk down memory lane to compile all the fun, funny, and downright strange things that have happened in and around our studio over the last 25 years.
In no particular, we bring you the following...
1. Our first office in Palo Alto shared a parking lot with Steve Jobs. We’d often see him outside trying to park while we were having RC car races. Or staring out his window when he was working out on his Stairmaster!
2. The name “ASTRO” was chosen for the company because it’s the ultimate modifier. Born from a word you can put in front of anything to make it more interesting, more future-facing, more enticing...would you rather have a car or an ASTRO-car?
3. The Palo Alto office was a converted laundromat that smelled like dryer sheets and had sketchy plumbing issues. As we grew we expanded by cutting a hole into the empty garage next door and covering it up with sliding door. 10% jank factor was born.
4. We also had a couple of “cat burglars” break into the studio by cutting a hole in the roof and slithering down a rope that was too small in diameter to crawl back up. To get out, they threw a chair through the window and jumped onto Valencia St. Our “neighbors” began looting the place before the cops could show up.
5. We had a sweet skate ramp built into the receptionist’s desk in our Mission studio. Mike Simonian of Mike and Maaike was the architect of the ramp.
6. We once had a car drive through the front door of our second office in the Mission at 4AM in the morning. The “buzzed” driver then left the car and ran away. That office is now an Everlane.
7. One afternoon ALSO at the Mission office, the police walked in and asked for roof access. It seemed someone was up there but, according to neighbors, hadn’t moved in a while. Unfortunately, the person on the roof had fatally overdosed a few hours earlier and didn’t survive. How he got on the roof still remains a mystery.
8. We had an amazing office in San Clemente, CA for 3 years. Set up in a remodeled car wash and filled with a team of super talented brand designers, it was opened to facilitate Nike’s desire to become relevant in the surf/skate/snow/moto industry. The result of the effort? Nike bought Hurley and ASTRO moved out of San Clemente.
9. The San Francisco design dodgeball tournament was initiated by Smart Design around 2005 and was won by us, ASTRO Studios! It was our first and last time...we peaked early.
10. Our current SoMa / 6th street office was originally a 1923 cigar factory made of poured concrete and rebar with reinforced wood floors, similar to many post-1906 buildings around the Bay. 6th Street was known as the city’s containment zone for the rougher crowd in SF, including a number of flophouses, warehouses, and small hotels. 100 years later and little has changed.
11. Over the past 25 years we’ve created over 500 products and 100 new brands, working with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to bootstrapped start-ups from around the globe. We’re a fortunate bunch and see a little of a lot.
12. Our studio has been graced by many interesting people over the years including Kanye West, Steve Jobs, John Scully and Jack Osbourne…who’s going to be next?
13. Beyond design, we’ve originated, funded, and launched 3 companies out of our studio - SubPar Golf, ASTRO Gaming, and Minus-8 Watches, with varied exits.
14. We designed the XBOX360, Microsoft’s best-selling gaming console. Over 84 million have been sold and our most lucrative program.
15. ASTRO Gaming was spun-off from Astro Studios to become the top eSport headset company in the world...or at least that’s what Logitech said after they bought it from Skullcandy in 2017. We kind of agree.
16. “Damnfinedesign” was our first tagline and capabilities list. “Fight Gravity” is today’s. They both still work.
17. Harriet Alley, behind our building, has been the spectacle of many events including: car chases, car fires, illegal business transactions galore, transient bullwhipping, flooding, urban camping, sleeping, tripping, cycling, plus our security camera capturing robberies and their getaway vehicles. But the most intense of them all was a raging 3-story water balloon fight between our team last summer.
18. We received 2 BusinessWeek “Design of the Decade” awards for the Nike Triax Watches & Kensington SmartSockets. This award recognizes their breakthrough design and market transformation.
19. We’ve had a live donkey, a mariachi band, a couple strippers, a man in a ghillie suit, an amateur foosball tournament, and even a runway show in our lobby...but not at the same time.
20. There used to be a rope swing by our Creative Director’s desk until it was deemed unsafe by his closest office mates.
21. We’re a dog friendly office and love all shapes, ages, sizes, and personalities...but some are more welcomed than others. You know who you are.
22. Astro has stayed around 30 people in order to keep the lines of communication open and stay close to the work. Our studio is 18,000 sq feet so you can run (and hide) but someone will probably still find you.
23. A lot of the projects we work on are top secret innovation programs so we can’t display or talk about them - shhhh!
24. We’ve destroyed a number of professional grade foosball and ping-pong tables over the years...way before dotcoms made them seem cliche.
25. The best thing about Astro is the people. The worker people. The client people. The audience people. The partner people. Inside, outside. Near and far. Truly, all the amazing people we’ve interacted with through the decades. From day one, “People are our ultimate clients” has been our mantra and it’s never changed.