‘See you at the 4 o’clock standup in Darth Jäger.’
FORTUNE — On any given day at Pinterest’s office in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, a staffer could hop between Hipster Babies, Beach Wedding, and Kitten Mittens. Down Brannan Street, at Airbnb’s palatial new headquarters — Renaissance royalty couldn’t have wanted for a grander atrium — meetings might take place in Milan, Reykjavik, or Bali.
“It can get confusing,” said Maggie Carr, an AirBnB spokesperson. “When I first started, I heard that someone was in a meeting in Berlin and I was like, ‘What? I saw him this morning.’”
This is what happens when conference room names like “31B” and “the one on the fifth floor” become passé. Many startups have turned the naming of meeting spaces into a creative, collaborative event in an effort to celebrate company culture.
“It’s a long-standing tradition here that we vote on conference room names,” said Slater Tow, a Facebook spokesperson. In every Facebook office, employees vote on the name of the conference room in their designated area, first by picking themes, which get voted up or down, and then by voting on names within the theme.
“The fun part is when two ideas tie,” Tow said. In one building on Facebook’s Menlo Park campus, Star Wars characters tied with cocktails, so staffers decided to combine them, resulting in conference room names like Jar Jar Drinks and Darth Jäger.
Pinterest also uses a democratic process but anoints meeting spaces based on what the site’s users are excited about, hence Kale Chips and Crock Pot. At Dropbox’s headquarters, three employees created individual QR codes for each of the 43 conference rooms, so inquiring minds can find out whether Doorman Drew is a joke about Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. (It’s actually a nod to the doorman at the company’s first office.)
Occasionally, democracy can run off the rails. Last year, Dropbox removed the names for two of its rooms, Bromance Chamber and The Break-up Room, after deciding they were no longer appropriate. (They have yet to be renamed, but Bike Shed is among the alternatives submitted by employees.)
Airbnb goes a step further than most companies by recreating some of the home rental site’s most popular listings to the truest extent possible — architects managed to make a thatched roof in the spa-like Bali room that is also fire-proof. One room, Rausch, pays homage to the San Francisco apartment where roommates Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky hatched the idea for Airbnb in 2008, down to the post-collegiate brown vinyl couch. Dozens of Sharpie-scrawled Post-it notes covered a wall on a recent Tuesday, indicating that work, indeed, takes place here.
Some make their conference room naming scheme fit the company’s moniker. Square’s San Francisco office named its glass-walled meeting spaces after famous squares around the world, like Azadi (in Tehran, Iran) and Lafayette (common in many U.S. cities, though perhaps most famously in New Orleans).
All that whimsy sometimes requires work. Pinterest spokesperson Mithya Srinivasan said in-the-know employees have had to give tutorials on some of the more sartorial conference room names, like Chambray (it’s a lightweight fabric often used for button-down shirts).
“It’s funny, you’ll be in Infinity Scarf talking to engineers and they’ll say, ‘So that’s what an infinity scarf is,’ because someone’s actually wearing one,’” Srinivasan said. “It’s like, ‘I get it now.’”