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Oakweek Los Angeles

To kick off the new year, team Oak packed up and headed to Los Angeles, trading the concrete jungle for the Hollywood Hills.  We explored the unique culture and enjoyed the weather while working on some challenging projects, making for a rewarding and fun week.

A coast to coast flight ended, and with our gear loaded into a rental we pushed into an unseasonably chilly night and the first of many traffic-filled L.A. drives. Upon arrival at our Airbnb house for the week we were given a quick tour and then wasted no time slipping into the hot spa and enjoying a panoramic view of the city at night.

One of our goals for the trip was to experiment with building an iOS app from start to finish in one week. We decided to make an app inspired by a widget we had previously made for ACORN, our internal status board. This process included wireframing, design, branding, testing, building a marketing page, lots of learning, and finally submitting the app to the App Store before hopping on the plane back to New York (more on that soon).

Our Airbnb in the Hollywood Hills

To balance working on projects there were lots of fun nights out. One evening we headed to the historic Arclight Cinerama Dome to watch Gangster Squad on release day. It was a memorable experience to watch a movie about Los Angeles with a local audience.

We also had a chance to visit the wonderful exhibit of legendary film auteur Stanley Kubrick’s work at LACMA which was a real treat. Notable sights included shooting schedules and annotated scripts with his handwritten notes, foreign language movie posters, set props from films like Full Metal Jacket, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining in addition to a wide selection of lenses and cameras used in his productions. There was also an exhibit of Baroque painter Caravaggio’s work next door so we stopped in and took in some stunning paintings as well. The exhibition included eight works by Caravaggio himself in addition to fifty or so others by artists from Italy, Spain, France, and the Netherlands who carried Caravaggio’s legacy into the late 17th century.

Hike to the Hollywood sign

Another highlight of the trip was the chance to work with one of our long-standing clients, Quarterly Co. from their office in L.A. We met up with co-founder Zach Frechette at a burrito spot nearby and then rendezvoused with the whole team to discuss some ideas for new features to come later this year. In a world where working remotely is commonplace, it was delightful to be able to work alongside our clients for a day and hear their vision for the company this year. After spending the day with Quarterly, we said our goodbyes and departed for dinner.

Panoramic view of LA from the infinity pool

L.A. certainly has some delicious food and drinks. Some of the food we sampled during the trip: Dan Sung Sa (traditional Korean, cheap soju), Palms Thai Restaurant (Thai Elvis impersonator and cheap good Thai), lunch at Forage in Silverlake (amazing arugula salad), AOC Wine Bar (tasty tapas and wine), Katsuya (fancy sushi), Scoops (handmade unique ice cream), Chateau Marmont (pricey cocktails and celeb-spotting), and Cafecito Organico (good coffee). All recommended.

One evening we had dinner at Genwa, a Korean BBQ spot where we feasted on various bibim bap bowls and traditional appetizers. Afterwards I think we all wanted to have every meal served in a heated stone bowl. It was certainly one of the few times I can remember the last bite of a dish being as warm as the first. Yum.

Besides eating, we also devoted some time to discussing upcoming projects and goals for the year. We reaffirmed plans to focus more on our own products like Symbolset, Dropmark, and Siteleaf. 2013 is a really exciting year for Oak!

Riding the Xcelerator

Our last full day was reserved for visiting an amusement park. After tragically driving out to Six Flags only to find it was closed for the day, we pulled into Knott’s Berry Farm, a fun park with tons of roller coasters. If you ever find yourself at Knott’s and like coasters, do ride the Silver Bullet, Xcelerator, Sidewinder, and Screamin’ Swing. Repeatedly. YOLO.

We hiked up to the Hollywood sign, encountered the Walk of Fame, and spent a week in the Hollywood hills (and L.A. traffic). We also ate a ton of great food, collaborated on an iPhone app, and enjoyed the L.A. lifestyle.

Highlights: Cruising through Beverly Hills, riding roller coasters, soaking in the hot tub while taking in a panoramic view of the Los Angeles sprawl, 7 Eleven Slurpees, WWE-edition Uno, inside jokes, meowing, movie night (Beverly Hills Cop, Beverly Hills 2, Iron Sky), crafting an iPhone app, card games, working with Quarterly Co.