As we completed another circle around
our sun to mark the end of 2021, we took
the first days of January once again to
reflect on the past year and to trace the
marks our work left in the world.

Read on below.  

We believe in the power of collaboration in an age of individualism. We believe in creative problem solving in an age of solely analytical thinking. We believe in long-term value creation in an age of short-termism.

As a maturing organization, these words have been our creed and the source of motivation that fueled our work in 2021. This year, we focused deeper on designing and implementing community systems in all of our undertakings as well as inviting people to our communities who share this passion.


We envision a world where complex challenges are tackled through fluid and impactful collaboration of diverse individuals and spirit of community that will infuse in the experience.

We all leave our mark on the world, why not make it a beautiful one?
ATÖLYE becomes a B Corp

Last year, our impact on our team, community, partners, clients, and the environment was put through a meticulous assessment by B Lab. Our governance methods were also scrutinized. It is as a result of this assessment that we are now proudly able to call ourselves a B Corp—but this is just the beginning of our journey.

So, what exactly does this mean for us? It means that we are going to be kept accountable for decisions that we make within ATÖLYE. It means we are going to make a commitment to face ourselves, identify how we can be better, and strive towards changing the way we work in a way that benefits both the people and the planet. We believe that this is no longer just a responsibility, but a necessity.

As we embrace this new journey, going forward, we’ll ask ourselves the following question at every intersection: We all leave our mark on the world, why not make it a beautiful one?

0 %
of projects benefitting underserved groups
0 %
of all initiatives in learning and education
0 %
of community members in collaboration
Fostering creative communities in a time of flux

At the core, ATÖLYE is a group of individuals that share a common purpose—a team that has grown to over 70 people at the turn of the year.

In curating this team of very special individuals, we were guided by purpose of collectively fostering a uniquely creative organization that sets an example for the future of work and learning—one that becomes a beacon of inspiration for our members, clients, partners, and broader audiences.

All of these achievements are a collection of our team’s passion, dedication, and talent. We thank each and every one of our team members, as well as our close-knit community of creatives, for such an inspiring year.

Following the launch of the second ATÖLYE hub in Dubai, 2021 was a year where we put our community and our members at the core of our initiatives. With rigorous events programming, impact-driven partnerships, talent matching, and thought leadership initiatives in Dubai and wider region, our Dubai hub set the scene for many impactful collaborations.

In the past year, our Dubai hub enabled some exciting collaborations amongst members, hosted more than 1,700 attendees at events and shared endless cups of coffee in conversation.

Following our founding members program, we welcomed 40 new creatives to our community in project collaborations of various scopes and scales. A great many of our members collaborated both with ATÖLYE and other partners in the ATÖLYE network such as Dubai Future Foundation, Palmwood as well as kyu members like SYPartners.

  • 2278 creatives in network
  • 40 new members
  • 21 ME nationalities represented

54% – Creative Industries
31% – Strategy & Business
6% – Social Sciences
8% – Tech & Engineering

  • 25 members matched to projects
  • 66 events orgnized
  • 1790 people hosted
“Every interaction I’ve had with ATÖLYE and its community has been a moment of growth for me; whether its being welcomed into one of the most talented and diverse ecosystems in the region or collaborating on challenging and impactful projects.”

“Working with ATÖLYE felt like a homecoming more than anything else. The space and the team are
a manifestation of the power of community and magic of connections—through which meaningful interactions are not just possible but inevitable.”

In spite of the strict pandemic measures at ATÖLYE’s home hub in Istanbul in 2021, the space hosted various hybrid experiences and collaborations. The past year provided our Creative Hub team with the opportunity to completely rehaul our member experience to accommodate for and initiate hybrid interactions that go beyond Zoom screens.

Our community experimented with different modes of gathering in hybrid settings; with 69 community-only events organized by hub members and global event series such as CreativeMornings shifting between the virtual, physical, hybrid planes.

As it lies in the heart of our purpose, creating an environment for our members to take on collaboration opportunities was our primary goal in 2021. 22 of our members joined 41 projects in collaboration in the past year.

  • 69 community events
  • 41 project collaborations

39% – Creative Industries

28% – Strategy & Business

21% – Social Sciences

12% – Tech & Engineering

  • 22 members matched to projects
  • 18% members in project collaboration
“The first step in my ATÖLYE journey was being a community member. Thanks to the creative approach of the Community, the bonds between us became stronger at a time when it was not easy to come together physically. At ATÖLYE, I crossed paths with many inspiring, creative, original, and beautiful people and I feel very lucky to have opportunities to share from my own experience.”

“ATÖLYE’s diverse structure and the transdisciplinary nature of the community has inspired me and opened up space where I can reflect on my own innovation practice. Since I’ve met ATÖLYE, we have broadened each other’s horizons. It is a wonderful experience to collaborate with ATÖLYE at different scales.”

The Learning Community
In its second term, ATÖLYE Academy’s Learning Community reached 600 learners. In cohorts, these learners set out on 11 programs designed as 5-week learning journeys and facilitated by strategists, leaders, and designers from the ATÖLYE’s team and wider network.

The programs explored inclusive leadership, learning design, sensemaking, holistic design, interpreting futures, and community design.

During these programs, participants experimented with leading-edge learning methods while tackling the real-life challenges they brought from diverse social and professional settings—building meaningful connections with fellow learners in their personal transformation journey.

The Learning Community also inspired 10 new microcommunities to emerge among which are inspiring initiatives such as the Legal Design Network and the University Innovation Fellows.

“I left every session with refreshed energy and realized how monotonous traditional learning experiences were compared to ATÖLYE Academy’s learning experiences. The community made me ponder questions such as ‘how do I best learn’ or ‘how do I best express what I have just learned’ and why is it important to learn within a cohort. I will carry these learnings with me for the rest of my life.”

  • 600 enrolled learners
  • 11 program cohorts
  • 70% completion rate

54.2% – Creative Industries
31.3% – Strategy & Business
6.3% – Social Sciences
8.3% – Tech & Engineering

  • 20 facilitators and expert trainers
  • 10 microcommunities emerged
  • 5.5/6 NPS score

“This community gave me a sense of togetherness during a time of isolation—I felt like I belonged here. The programs provided the courage to share the ideas that I’ve been holding back. I had the chance to collaborate with others on several occasions and met sensitive, innovative, and curious people who love to share. Joining the community might have been the best thing that’s ever happened to me in a long time.”

Recognitions and awards

In 2021, the results of our collaboration with our partners and community toward long-term impact continued to be recognized in international competitions. Our body of multidisciplinary design work received numerous awards and recognitions across multiple industries, from Learning and Organization Design to Architectural Design.

Dubai Future Foundation Spatial Design
Our spatial strategy and architectural design project for the Dubai Future Foundation’s Accelerators Space has been chosen as an Honorable Mention at the 2021 Architecture MasterPrize.
Abdi İbrahim Pioneers of Change

The Pioneers of Change program we designed for the healthcare company Abdi İbrahim was selected as the “Best Program for Upskilling Employees” in the Brandon Hall Excellence Awards. In the program, 20 of Abdi İbrahim’s high-potential employees practiced human-centered design to develop solutions to the firm’s strategic challenges as well as training to become pioneers for new mentalities and ways of work in the company.

Sezin School Kindergarten and Primary School spatial design

Our project on transforming the Sezin School’s space through spatial strategy and interior design has made it to the Official Selection at the London International Creative Competition in the “Professional/Build Architecture” category.

We envision a world where complex challenges are tackled through fluid and impactful collaboration of diverse individuals and communities.
Partnerships in long-term impact

In the past year, in our strategy and design work, we focused heavily on deepening our interactions with our partners and fostering collaborations with our community members in impact-driven projects.

As a strategy, design, and transformation partner for a wide range of organizations, we further defined our set of offerings from a lens of end-to-end experience design and community development with an implementation-focused mindset.

Below you’ll find some highlights from our project work in 2021.

An inclusive guest experience strategy for Expo 2020
ATÖLYE and SYPartners collaborated in designing the strategy and the guest experiences of what has become
a highly anticipated World Expo after being postponed due to pandemic restrictions; Expo 2020 Dubai.

The UAE Pavilion, as the host country pavilion of the Expo, set out to tell the story of its people during this unique opportunity to welcome the world to their home and to share their hopes for the future.

Through a human-centric approach, ATÖLYE and SYPartners aimed to elevate a collective sense of ambition, foster a sense of connectedness, and encourage local and global stakeholders to connect and collaborate.

During the project, many leaders, creatives, and thought partners came together to establish core values and shape a narrative grounded in these values to provide an unforgettable experience to inspire the whole world to build a better future.
The UAE Pavilion tells a story that is grounded in these core values:
Ambition + Humanity:
Continually striving for progress, and consistently investing in making others’ lives better.
Authenticity + Openness:
Welcoming others who share our respect for humanity, regardless of whether they share our traditions.
Optimism + Resilience:
Having big dreams for the future and committing to doing the hard work necessary to make them a reality.
Engaging local communities with art, design, and technology

To celebrate Apple’s new store opening in Istanbul, Apple and ATÖLYE collaborated in designing the local chapter of “Today at Apple”; an ongoing global program by Apple aiming to inspire hands-on creativity in photography, art, design, coding, music, and other forms of artful expression.

The program’s main purposes, alongside re-energizing the existing market in Turkey, were defined as connecting with the local creative community and showcasing the full variety of what Apple products can achieve.

Committing to this purpose, we set out to build a community of creatives and curate a program inspired by the multicultural nature of the city of Istanbul. Our program strategy aimed to inspire creativity by elevating the participant experience by; building a diverse and open community, fostering participation and interaction, and supporting the exchange of values.

Perspektif İstanbul focused on exploring communities that share the goal of fostering creative fluidity, honoring the city, and embracing the use of technology for good. Through creative explorations, attended by hundreds of people in 13 sessions held by 19 artists, we found fresh and diverse perspectives towards the city we live in and the spaces we occupy; but, most importantly, towards one another.

With a playful look at the ever-changing and multi-disciplinary creative practices, the program praised the diversity and creativity of the city and called for new practices in technology and the positive social impact these practices can create.

The programming concentrated on three focal areas:
Creative Fluidity:
A playful look into multidisciplinary and ever-changing creative practices through learning and making sessions by multidisciplinary creatives. Creating a space for freedom of expression for artists to reflect their fluid practices.
Honoring the diversity and creativity of the city and the diverse elements of the local culture. Creating a set of collective memories built through sensory experiences.
Tech for Good:
Calling out novel practices in tech and paving the way for the positive social impact it can create by consciously democratizing access to technology and considering its social implications. Spotlighting the creatives working on sustainable futures.
Designing for hybrid education
In K12 education, the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it the pressing need to reconsider all teaching and learning methods, all touchpoints and experiences, and all previously vetted methodologies.

As COVID started to disrupt education in unprecedented ways, ATÖLYE joined long-time transformation partner Sezin School in an effort to design the hybrid experience of K1 and Kindergarten students in 2021.

The project set out to design a supplementary experience to hybrid education for kindergarten and first-grade students, as well as their parents, to foster a sense of belonging to the notion of school.

After rigorous co-design sessions with students, parents, teachers, and school management, ATÖLYE and Sezin School came up with a multi-sensory and experiential design solution as a product-service system.
This system was materialized in the form of a supplementary kit for students, parents, and teachers titled “Sezin Post.
The kit aimed to provide a scalable solution to the problems the school was facing by bolstering belonging in K0 and K1 students during lockdowns, redefining teacher-student-parent interactions, and also providing guidance for parents in homeschooling.

“Working side-by-side with ATÖLYE’s designers and facilitators, we adopted new methods of collaboration, which have enabled all our stakeholders—students, teachers, parents, and more—to participate in the process of designing a better learning environment—organizationally, physically, and virtually.”

Cultural adaptation program for child refugees
The World Bank and ATÖLYE, with support from local NGOs from the regions damaged by the war in the Middle East, developed an adaptation program for refugee children between 8 and 12 years of age.

The project, titled Curiohood, focused on developing an open source learning kit for both refugee and host community children to activate their curiosity towards different cultures with 25 hands-on and
block-coding activities.

The project succeeded in embedding the toolkit that has been developed into two major NGOs’ social cohesion programs. Social impact organizations ASAM and MÜDEM, who have shown great interest in adopting Curiohood, are adamant in developing the program further with a “Train the Trainer” program.

  • 54 children joined the program
  • 25 social cohesion activities designed
“It was wonderful to see the children enjoying the creative process. They were personally invested in the activities and wished they had more time together. At that moment, I felt that this project had the power to go beyond these sessions and impact people’s lives.”
The Social Cohesion Toolkit
The social cohesion toolkit designed during the program aimed to ignite curiosity in refugee and host community children towards ideas and objects while co-creating with their peers by employing empathy and respect.
Transformation through responsible leadership
BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt and ATÖLYE joined forces in 2021 to design a non-conforming leadership program for the foundation’s network of responsible leaders.

The program, titled “dawn,” was a 16-week-long transformational journey where leaders focused on a real-world challenge to empower immigrant women through financial freedom.

The program brought together a diverse group of Responsible Leaders who share a common vision to collaborate in tackling a systemic issue. The program also aimed to develop a compelling definition and blueprint of Responsible Leadership and hopes to build an alternative to the mainstream ways of approaching leadership.

  • 18 leaders in transformation
  • 3 solution prototypes created
  • 16 weeks of transformational journey
  • 12 full days of immersion
“ATÖLYE has been a great steward in very important processes within the Foundation, not only by developing a new project that reflects a lot of the things that the foundation has learned over the past years, but also internally to help us see, translate, and create the best of us.”
“Thanks to ATÖLYE the program evolved into an experiment that dared to stand out in the organisation; operating on its edges and questioning the status quo with a long-term vision and without attempts to conform.
This vision keeps creating ripple effects into the entire organisation and we are now planning to adopt and integrate a significant share of the program’s key characteristics into our overarching “responsible leadership” program.”
Journeying with new ventures

In the past year, ATÖLYE Ventures was reenergized with the purpose of creating and distributing bigger and compounding value for the entire ATÖLYE ecosystem. In this year of exploration and experiments for ATÖLYE Ventures, figuring out how to achieve that purpose was key.

ATÖLYE Ventures has discovered new consultancy offerings with US-based partner Shared Studios, as well as acting as a startup acceleration partner for iftrue and Toyi.

Going forward, ATÖLYE Ventures will spin off into a separate entity, putting this years learnings into practice to achieve its purpose of learning and creating together with creatives and to help organizations accelerate their impact.

Shared Studios
Shared Studios is a company that facilitates powerful conversations and collaborations across borders and long distances for a brighter world. COVID-19 has posed an existential threat to Shared Studios’ business; which relied on real-life experiences. ATÖLYE Ventures joined Shared Studios in their effort to define a “future-fit” Go-to-Market Strategy; including restructuring their products and services, developing channel and partnership strategies along with a versatile messaging framework, and identification of strategic capabilities using service design practices.
Toyi is an eco-friendly creative building kit that enables children to transform everyday objects into unique toys. Toyi is also the winner of the prestigious iF Design Award in the Product category and is also displayed at the MoMA in New York. In 2021, ATÖLYE Ventures focused on supporting Toyi’s ongoing incubator journey as a growing startup; providing support in communication, investor relations, go-to-market and business strategy, material production.
“iftrue” is an early-stage startup positioned as a one-click solution for software teams to improve each phase of the development lifecycle by providing workflows and actionable insights. ATÖLYE Ventures team partnered with iftrue to find a product-market fit hypothesis for the next stage of investment through a disciplined entrepreneurship approach; discovering market potential, providing product design guidance, commercializing the product, and devising an investment roadmap.
We exist to cultivate a fertile environment that catalyzes individuals and organizations to thrive together for the better.
Sharing our thinking
The mindset of collaboration is what guides our interactions. In 2021, our aim was to join forces with other impact-driven organizations and activate our respective communities with our learnings and thinking. To this end, throughout the year, we looked for ways to hold inclusive spaces to invite others in on our explorations in design, strategy, and community-driven work through various forms of online and physical gatherings.
What is Design Worth? HBR x ATÖLYE
A major highlight of the year was the day-long event ATÖLYE and Harvard Business Review hosted to explore the strategic value of design. At the event, world-renowned design leaders, such as Jessica Orkin (CEO, SYPartners) and Tim Brown (Chair, IDEO) joined us to share their thinking, inspiring the audience with their vision for the future of design and collaboration.
House of Beautiful Business: Concrete Love

In another great collaboration, ATÖLYE joined the House of Beautiful Business at Concrete Love to host an interactive session; exploring the concepts of purpose and belonging in the context of communities. The session highlighted the rising importance and evolution of communities in our current decade and explored how to elevate them as a tool of collective resilience.

The “Re:turn” at Dubai Design Week

The climactic moment of the year, undoubtedly, was when ATÖLYE Dubai staged a pop-up space in Dubai Design Week, presenting an experiential program of talks and masterclasses, hosted by renowned local and international speakers.

Inspired by the belief that we are all creative by nature, each day of the pop-up titled “The Re:turn” represented a different stage of the cyclical creative process, moving from an inward exploration of the self to an outward mobilization of the collective — exploring the themes of circular economy, design thinking, architecture, community design, biomimicry, and many more.

Designathon: Emergency Response

August 2021 saw the worst wildfire season in Turkey’s history, with hundreds of square kilometers of forest burned near the country’s Mediterranean coast. Realizing the urgency of the situation, ATÖLYE organized a designathon in partnership with imece and to design effective methods against wildfires in Turkey and support the ongoing fight.

The event convened an interdisciplinary community of local organizations and volunteers fighting against fire, creative industry professionals, designers, students, technologists, and civil society workers. Together, they discussed how to address the most urgent needs, prevent disinformation, and enable a coordinated relief effort.

Saffron x ATÖLYE: ESG Roundtable

In December, Saffron and ATÖLYE got together with a number of CEOs from Turkey to discuss their Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) agendas.

At the roundtable, leaders from each organization shared their commitment to more sustainable business practices. An audio report sharing the event’s outcomes will be published soon in the spirit of collaboration and accountability; urging others to act for what really matters, today.

Our team is fueled by a strong sense of togetherness and wellbeing; guided by that challenges that help us grow both professionally and personally.
The people who made it happen
At the core, ATÖLYE is a group of individuals that share a common purpose—a team that has grown to over 70 people at the turn of the year.

In curating this team of very special individuals, we were guided by purpose of collectively fostering a uniquely creative organization that sets an example for the future of work and learning—one that becomes a beacon of inspiration for our members, clients, partners, and broader audiences.

All of these achievements are a collection of our team’s passion, dedication, and talent. We thank each and every one of our team members, as well as our close-knit community of creatives, for such an inspiring year.
Rolando Dave Bobier
Venue Experience Associate
Sonay Ardı Akkar
Sr. Lead, Strategic Design Studio
Sinan Onurlu
Strategist, Engagement Manager
Nilay Kırıcı
User Experience Designer
Yasemin Arın
Learning Designer
Aslı Sevinç Daver
Sr. Lead, Ventures
Aicha Mansour
Sr. Lead, Service & Interaction Design
Akar Şümşet
Director, ATÖLYE Ventures
Aleyna Tezer
Visual Communications Designer
Alican Durmuş
Sr. Lead, Operations and Program Management
Ali Özgür Arslan
Sr. Lead, Communications
Alper Çilingir
Sr. Lead, Interaction Design
Alper Yıldırım
Director, Technology and Operations
Arda Kolukısa
Service Designer, Ventures
Atılım Şahin
Director of Communities
Ayşen Kuşoğlu
Design Researcher
Başak Aras
Sr. Visual Communications Designer
Barbaros Kaptanoğlu
Learning Designer
Begüm Ural
Sr. Architect
Bengi Turgan
Sr. Director, Strategic Design Studio
Berk Şahin
Sr. Finance Associate
Burcu Demirok
Chief of Staff
Burcu Yılmaz Deniz
Sr. Community Curator
Büşra Serdar
Community Associate
Carla Lemgruber
Director, Strategic Design Studio
Cihan Kaplan
Sr. Projects and Programs Associate
Deniz Dönmez
Sr. Design Strategist & Service Designer
Deniz Erdoğan
Design Researcher
Deniz Yazıcıoğlu
Community Designer, ATÖLYE Academy
Ecem Çınar
Interior Designer
Emel Pilavcı
Projects & Grants Associate, Creative Hub
Emre Erbirer
Sr. Lead, Creative Hub Istanbul
Engin Ayaz
Erdem Koç
Sr. Interaction Designer
Ezgi Özdemir
Sr. Learning Designer
Funda Çevik Dinsdale
Sr. Visual Communications Designer
Gizem Akın
Gülin Ölçer
Sr. Lead, Business Design
Gülnaz Ör
Events & Programs Associate
İlknur Yağmur Emre
Venue Experience Support
İrem Üzden
Finance Associate
Kerem Alper
Melissa Lara Clissold
Sr. Communications Associate
Mert Çetinkaya
Director, ATÖLYE Academy
Mevlüt Demir
Accounting Associate
Nazlı Cangönül
Sr. Service & Learning Designer
Nazlı Kaptan
Lead, Service & Visual Design
Ömer Faruk Ataş
Communications Associate
Polen Gökbuget
Project Manager
Selim Aykut
Director, ATÖLYE Dubai
Süveyda Çil
Project Coordinator
Sibel İlgen Türker
Sr. Architect
Tolga Dizmen
Sr. Director, Finance & Operations
Zeynep Aykul Yavuz
Learning Designer, ATÖLYE Academy
Oğuzhan Sütpınar
Venue Experience Associate
Uluğbey Karagöz
Project Manager
Leen Sadder
Sr. Lead, Creative Hub Dubai
Dana Shashaa
Community Associate, ATÖLYE Dubai
Joud Malhas
Sr. Designer and Spatial Strategist
Hadeel Qutob
Events and Programming Associate

Looking ahead…


In 2022 and beyond, our resolution is to hold true to our purpose of using our capabilities for people, communities, and organizations to thrive together for the better.

To learn more about ATÖLYE, visit our website at this link and subscribe to our newsletter here.


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