Bridging Two Studios Together to Create One Moon

Signe Jacobsen & Yu Onodera

As we stand by our “One Moon” initiative, it’s hard not to reflect on the most important aspect that makes us collectively work in unison; the culture at Moon. This wouldn’t be possible without key drivers within our organization striving every day to make our environment welcoming, encouraging and productive.

Spring Terrace — Tokyo studio

Our Operation Designers, Signe Jacobsen and Yu Onodera, not only lead Moon Mates to feel connected to the greater whole, but they are the glue that help hold the entire team together as we work across time zones and borders.





“What I like to think about my work and the culture of Moon is nurturing a creative environment that makes it possible for all Moon Mates to work together in a productive way, where they can come up with innovative projects and new ideas. We are nurturing that creative environment and foundation for our work to thrive.


We really have a very diverse pool of people coming from all over and even the people who are based in Tokyo, a lot of those individuals are not from Tokyo or Japan. It’s the same for our Moon Mates in the U.S., too! A lot of us are not actually from the U.S. or if we are now, we have parents who are from different places. I think the diversity of people is what really makes Moon unique. Beyond just where we come from geographically, we also come from all different backgrounds of education, work experience, and even life experiences.”





“My biggest challenge as an Operations Designer at Moon is striving for a strong culture. The integration of Mitsui’s culture and non-Mitsui culture is very challenging because we are governed by Mitsui and it influences our operations a lot. We have to bridge two unique cultures all while crafting our own.”





“During the pandemic, our team grew immensely. I think that has been challenging remotely, maintaining that sense of what still makes us come together as a group beyond just a Zoom video call. On the other hand, I think remote work has helped create some flexibility for Moon Mates which is great! It has helped loosen people up a bit. I think people can see now that you can actually be quite productive working from home and be held accountable by people who are in the same position. It’s added a level of transparency and trust across teams.”

660 — Palo Alto studio

One unforeseen challenge remote work forced upon all of us, is the fact that everyone was working too much. Work life and home life became one - often blending days into weeks. The Operations Design team noticed this early on in the pandemic and realized this style of working would not breed the creative environment they had always aimed for.





“I think what is very successful in Yu’s and my working relationship and the way we approach nurturing culture is to experiment fast. We think about our shared language or rituals at Moon. Shared experiences like connecting Moon Mates to each other based on similar interests, hosting Moon Speaks, Third Eye; having those things that you have to be a part of Moon to know what we’re talking about. That’s what makes us who we are. We start to have internal jokes and can share laughs. All of those shared stories are what makes up who we are as a collective, that is what is so special about Moon.”





“When we plan activities, we always try to think about what might be useful for when EIRs leave to make their own new company. They will start to collect people outside of Moon and build their own culture for their company. I want them to remember what we used to do at Moon when they start creating a culture of their own and feel inspired.”





“I think play is important for creative thinking and design thinking. In play we let go, there is no judgment. It’s improvisation. In play, we’re allowed to do silly things. By training Moon Mates about play and making them feel comfortable embracing play together, we're also more likely to feel that way when it comes to something work related. It’s important to add play in an environment around a topic that feels safe and no one is going to judge each other. I hope that makes people feel more safe to incorporate play in their projects and expand out into their everyday lives.”

Shared stories, experiences and play are the glue that connects the distance between two studios that stretch across the world. These shared moments of deep, human connection are what allow Moon Mates the psychological safety to be themselves in a work environment. When a person can truly let go and be themselves they have the freedom to think and create often leading to new ways of doing things. Imagine a workplace where these types of empowered people exist and collaborate together.

That’s One Moon.