We believe that we are exploring a novel territory. As a transdisciplinary innovation platform, we are not only a creative hub with a real estate business at its core, or a design consultancy focusing on client work. In our case the hub and the studio form an indispensable, symbiotic whole.
ATÖLYE is an academic spin-off project with ties to Stanford d.school and NYU Tisch ITP. While the former institution provides a design thinking and social impact mindset, the latter offers digital-physical prototyping know-how and a critical maker approach. Over the last four years, we have traversed through an interesting journey which taught us: ‘Build Community, Space Will Come.’
Situated at the core of our practice, our strategic design studio consists of 30 strategists and designers geared towards tackling innovation on multiple scales. With a clear intent on transdisciplinarity, we love addressing wicked problems that deal with conflicting paradigms, stakeholder complexity and emergent processes.
In our approach, we combine strategy with design at three different levels: organizations, product-service-systems and platforms. We first engage with organizations at a strategic level, discovering challenges, mapping opportunities and envisioning a jointly desirable future. We then guide them through their organizational transformation journey, or develop new product service systems.
We are fluent with scales and enjoy working across digital, product or spatial design, all of which form holistic human experiences. We also thrive on developing new platforms that combine all of the above.
For all projects, we take great care in diligent impact assessment to become a learning organization. We also emphasize strategic communication to contribute to a learning society.
Nestled in Istanbul, we are nourished by the dynamic, if not chaotic, nature of the city, while developing projects at a fast pace and with an adaptive attitude. We see the inherent impatience that surrounds us as an advantage for “getting things done,” whereas an ambitious talent pool helps us take on projects of global scale. On the other hand, we are connected to the world via different creative hub and entrepreneurship networks, with whom we jointly develop projects, participate in exchange programs and focus on being a “glocal” organization in all senses of the word.
Our studio is surrounded by three components of a creative hub: community, event venue and prototyping lab. Our community of 150 individuals and organizations is rigorously curated with clear criteria pertaining to diversity and interaction level and is housed under the same roof. This community serves as a backbone for executing projects, catalyzing co-learning through feedback sessions, and enabling serendipitous new collaborations.
Our Prototyping Lab, as part of the global MIT Fab Lab network, fuels a culture of prototyping with a diverse set of tools and workshops. It also enables us to reach out to young and restless minds with residency programs. Our venue allows immersive co-design processes with clients and external stakeholders. It also serves a public-facing front and a channel for critical content creation around design, technology and entrepreneurship.
Combining these strengths, we developed a business model that brings together the public and private sectors and the academia, through the individual investments we received from Turkey and abroad, the funding support from Istanbul Development Agency (ISTKA) and the partnership we have established with Ozyegin University. We have done projects that have been funded on Kickstarter, won global design awards, raised and distributed the largest-to-date social investment grant in Turkey. We have been also acknowledged by Stanford d.school as their most influential spinoff for 2014.
Looking forward, we are focusing on cultivating a ‘decelerator mindset’ and a tailor-made assemblage of values, both of which will catapult us in executing high-impact projects regarding the future of working, learning and living. In this process, we put “human” at the center and aim to create long-term value.