Maybe It is because we represent in Italy the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of a fragmented region (Marche region) made up of small cities and town; maybe it is because, as in metropolitan areas, the wind of change blows also in here, in small urban centers, where creative hubs are starting to be perceived as the places where to be in the new entrepreneurial world, where creativity, knowledge and innovation are becoming the main driving forces of territorial development…may be it is because all of this that at Warehouse, since the project was started in 2013, we felt the need of being part of the bigger picture shaping out in the rest of Italy and Europe and be connected to other creative hubs communities, tending to be a “glocal” organization. This is also the reason why Warehouse Coworking Factory since the very beginning is a proud member of the European Creative Hub Network ECHN, which we see as a wonderful place where to share, to put our energies and to grow up with our fellow creative hubs operating in bigger or even smaller scale contexts all over Europe.
Within the network we’ve always appreciated the P2P exchange and the learning opportunities offered by different programs and when this second chance was given to us, thanks to the Creative Flip Program, a project co-funded by the EU, led by the Goethe-Institut and implemented by a consortium of six partners—among them the European Creative Hubs Network, we tried to make the most of it, as we did on our first P2P in Sarajevo, in 2017.
This time our hosting partner was ATÖLYE, a creative hub located in one of the biggest cities in the world, the city with the bridge between the two continents: the wonderful Istanbul.
Thanks to ATÖLYE ’s team we had a really meaningful, deep and fruitful exchange maybe, as the proverb says, because…
Creative Flip, Finance, Learning, Innovation and Patenting (FLIP) is a pilot project whose main objective is to support healthy and sustainable ecosystems for Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) with respect to these four key policy areas.
In line with the key areas of the project, and in particular with the focus on Learning and Innovation drivers, we started to look for an hosting hub with similar interests, approaches and ideas, and ATÖLYE in Istanbul for sure was among the creative hubs we could have stick together very well, even if we operate in very a different scale: small town versus metropoli!
In fact, the Work Plan was already there when we approached ATÖLYE’s team for the exchange. The thematic pillars we suggested for our P2P reflected actually two Innovation drivers guiding projects and activities in both creative hubs namely:
1) Design Thinking and co-creation, as innovative tools to help stakeholders to design new services and human centered organizations: Warehouse upcoming projects entail the use of these methodologies to reach a better understanding of human behaviour and design meaningful solutions for its clients, and for sure Atolye Design Studio has a relevant experience on this.
2) The second touch point with ATÖLYE is the use of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality(AR) ad Mix Reality (MR) as emerging technologies apt to take the users experience with products, services and brands to a new level: Warehouse is experimenting very much on this and ATÖLYE is supporting in Istanbul Karma Lab Project, a project of Koç University to research VR and AR technologies and educate experts in these fields.
One more thing attracting the two organizations for the P2P scheme was also the specific value that the two hubs attribute to their communities: “Build community, space will come!” is written in ATÖLYE’s website and, similarly, Warehouse Coworking Factory’s payoff has always been “Community first!”. Two organizations that put the community at the heart of their action. And here is where the proverb “Birds of a feather flock together” comes to help in explaining how Warehouse and ATÖLYE choose each other for the P2P scheme with the desire to exchange and delve into mutual similar projects.
ATÖLYE team prepared for Warehouse team, namely Laura Sgreccia, Co-founder, Hub Director and Community Manager and MassimilianoCamillucci, community member, freelance, IT consultant focused on Digital Innovation and Emerging Technologies, a full week packed with meetings and events aimed at delving into the topics of mutual interest.
Day one at Atolye was led by Atilim Sahin, Creative Hub Director and Community Builder and dedicated to deep dive into the astonishing space where the creative hub is located with its vibrant community in the old Bomonti Brewery.
It was really interesting to compare and realize how ATÖLYE’s community is nourished by the dynamic nature of this big city, developing projects at fast pace with an adaptive attitude, addressing complex problems with interdisciplinary approach and gathering around the hub a diverse selected community of 150 people; and Warehouse, attracting and retaining in a very small urban center a community of 35 freelance and creative people increasingly looking for sustainable and healthy lifestyles, giving priority to well‐being, community spirit, authenticity, slow lifestyle but still gathering around a hub to learn, to grow and to tackle together, with multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches, the same complex problems, related to disruptive changes and challenges in contemporary world.
Atilim kindly dedicated, the following day, further time to deep dive into ATÖLYE Community explaining how they’ve become a magnet for talents and how they keep together the personal growth of every single member and the creation of value for the organization. This gave Warehouse team many insights on how to future-proof their hub focusing on a set of business drivers.
The Design of solutions for organizations through Design Thinking was the focus of our Deep Dive in ATÖLYE Design studio, on our third day stay, where we learned a lot from big scale projects showcased to us by Onat Vural, service and organization designer, part of Atolye team. Warehouse team shared in this session projects and processes the team is designing together with specific organizations in Italy to implement smart working as a new flexible form of work for companies. It was very interesting to see that, even if the stakeholders and clients the two hubs deal with are different (multinational companies versus SMEs) the common approach they use in implementing their service or organizational design projects, is the same: design with client, not for them.
Emerging Technologies practices from Italy and Turkey
On October 9, as part of this exchange, ATÖLYE organized a whole day deep dive into emerging VR/AR/XR technologies in collaboration with their University partner, Koç University and within the Karma Lab Project.
Laura and Massimiliano participated in a very interesting session with scholars, Subject Matter Experts and Professors at Karma Lab, a project of Koç Üniversity funded by İstanbul Development Agency and implemented with the support of ATÖLYE. Students from different background presented their AR/VR/XR projects in different fields and they had a meaningful exchange with Massimiliano, very passionate and enthusiastic on these technologies. In the evening, the same day, a public event was organized on “Emerging Technologies: practices form Italy and Turkey” where more than 80 attendees, among them passionates, experts and creatives, came to listen and share. Massimiliano from Warehouse was invited to present our experiences and the status of the art in Italy and he participated in the panel together with other young passionates Michael Barngroveris a VR designer and developer based in Koç University’s KARMA Lab, and Ali Vatansever an urban photographer and filmmaker. Massimiliano opened the event with a presentation about immersive/XR/360 examples and project deriving from Warehouse. The open conference continued, moderated by Prof. Asım Evren YANTAC of Karma Lab, until late in the evening with a discussion on how creative hubs can work with 360/XR initiatives and how these technologies can provide new windows and skills for the hub communities. The exchange on this topic advanced many ideas for future collaboration engaging Universities and Creative hubs together in Europe.
The P2P exchange finally drove Laura and Massimiliano to visit other creative hubs and coworking spaces in Istanbul: the program was scheduled by Emre Erbirer Event and Project manager in ATÖLYE. They were introduced by Banu Koşar & Mustafa Tandoğant to the vibrant start up scene at Kolektif House Levent ; while Ekin Gök from Impact hub Istanbul presented to Warehouse’s team interesting social impact project; finally they also visited the amazing location of Salt Galata, library and coworking space
We’ve learned that specific actors such as creative hub can be agent of changes and ENGINES FOR INNOVATION and creative transformation also in small and medium-sized urban context; that sharing experiences also with creative hubs operating in a bigger scale is always very important and very useful, it allows you to LEARN FAST. And finally that we don’t have to be afraid to THINK BIG, even when the context where you operates demands you to GROW SLOW.