What is Atria?

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An interview with the Founders of the Organization

Text: Aline Rutily & Charles Peronnin
Images: Anthony MarcoCo-Founder of ATRIA

Co-founder of ATRIA
Prior to her role in ATRIA, Aline Rutily has over 15 years of experience as an innovative ventures developer in France and abroad. She is viewed as a networking leader and taste maker for high level international business connections. Aline was a Director of New Media in the largest French TV Channel at that time (TF1) , then Deputy CEO of Bernard Spitz Conseil advising CEOs of large French and Asian companies. She then led the expansion of small and middle size companies in Africa, Asia and Europe. She has supported the innovation and international growth of tens of entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and CEOs. Aline has graduated from ESSEC (MBA) & Harvard Business School (PLD) She’s on the Board of ESSEC Alumni. She’s a member of the non-African Board of Efficience (largest business network between the French Diaspora and Africa) She’s a regular speaker in international conferences about innovation and communication.

Co-Founder of ATRIA
Charles has 10 years of experience in real estate finance and architecture project management, having worked exclusively with some of the worlds boldest real estate and design entrepreneurs on a wide range of game-changing projects. Charles began his career as an architect, working as a designer & project manager for 3 of the most prestigious architecture masters (Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster & David Chipperfield) on offices, hotels, schools and residential projects. Following a Masters degree in Real Estate, Charles spent 3 years working in Paris on the 2 billion Euros financial structuring of a 2.6 mln sqft development for the tallest towers in Europe. The project includes high-end apartments, a luxury 5-star hotel, commercial center and offices. Charles holds a Master in Real Estate Finance & Development from Columbia and a BA in Architecture from the Architectural Association.

A private enterprise attesting to Paris as a dynamic international hub for project development

In our lifetime, Paris has never been so overflowing with ideas, initiatives and innovations, all carried by a growing community of entrepreneurial-minded people. The foundation of ATRIA and its success is a direct response to this emulation of a metropolis which is growing its human capital and game-changing projects at a rate which generates huge demand for an acceleration platform, such as our own. The incubation of PUBLIC Journal Europe is a natural extension of ATRIA's mission to foster the success of cross-border initiatives.

What is ATRIA?

Aline Rutily (AR) - ATRIA is a unique community of innovative people from different sectors: entrepreneurs, think tank leaders, associations, designers, writers, film producers, journalists, experts etc. Their common characteristic is that they are leaders and decision makers in their field on one hand, and have a strong commitment to innovation on the other. We also welcome many artists from other creative industries, in partnership with Adrien Moisson’s Splendens Factory Adrien.
My partner, Charles Peronnin, and I select the members of the community on the basis of proposals by the existing members and other members of the team. We run this community and assure its proper operation.

Charles Peronnin (CP)- A third of our members are from abroad and almost our entire community is internationally-oriented in their projects. ATRIA works with a monthly subscription system that allows access to the platform of contacts, but also to a set of very important services to members of our community. So we offer to members of ATRIA a set of consulting services for business: research support for new customers, communications consulting or marketing, and especially the organization productive meetings between members of our circle. Other services such as translation services or technical support are provided by partners we select. Part of our business model also involves organizing many events around prominent personalities (presidential candidates, international investors, foreign columnists, successful entrepreneurs visiting Paris, foreign writers visiting Paris, chefs, etc.) to provide more opportunities for meetings between our members.

Why did you choose to launch ATRIA Paris?

AR - My partner and I come from very different backgrounds. I worked for fifteen years in innovation, I am a graduate of ESSEC and Harvard Business School. Recently I accompanied entrepreneurs in their international development through a company I founded in 2009. After six years of traveling around the world, I decided to spend more time in Paris. I met some extraordinarily innovative and creative people, and I felt a strong internationally-oriented energy. I wanted to create a platform of handpicked contacts to facilitate international expansion and "connections" between the extraordinary people I had met. In Paris, there were many incubators for start-ups from the tech sector, but it seemed that there lacked a project accelerator for vetted talent in the pursuit of innovation and international expansion. I decided to put the together my network I had built over the years, and created this platform.

CP - After having trained as an architect in London I had the chance to work side by side with three of the most prestigious architects of our time between London and Rotterdam.  After completing a Master’s in Real Estate Development at Columbia, I left the architectural firms because I had become more attracted to the some of my clients’ professions, that of real estate developers. I worked on a very ambitious mixed-use project at the Defense for three years. Throughout my work, I watched with interest how working methods were undergoing profound changes, as was the flexibility of the workplace; its communal aspects and collaborative nature were being fundamentally amplified.  Like Aline, I was struck by the creative and innovative potential of Paris and a growing revival of the potential of this metropolis on the world stage. After spending 20 years abroad, I felt the urge to participate more actively in this effervescence by creating ATRIA, which now allows all community project developers to work more efficiently while creating a platform that is very internationally-oriented.

What is your role in the development of PUBLIC Journal in Europe?

AR - When we met Matthew Linden, we immediately wanted to supported his efforts with PUBLIC Journal. Its concept seems to us at ATRIA like it should be a crucial element of modern societies. It feels totally “ATRIA” - where we help our members "design" projects that will self- sustain. We wanted to help launch the European Issue of PUBLIC, and be alongside Matthew as presents his vision, PUBLIC @ PARIS -  so we assured the "incubation" and coordination of this Issue dedicated to Paris.

CP - The synergies between the message that PUBLIC is upholding, and the areas of development explored by many ATRIA members, are obvious. We are seduced by the commitment PUBLIC Journal has to highlighting design as a tool for the public interest, as opposed to an end in itself. This publication helps give a voice to exceptional projects and their creators and in so doing, PUBLIC has its finger on the pulse of ‘public interest design’: a powerful movement and a strong area of focus for many members of our community. We therefore chose to bring our support to the development of PUBLIC @ PARIS by seeking to provide the publication with solutions in terms of visibility, content curation, and partnerships.

What is your definition of design and its role in society?

AR - For me, design is a philosophy. It's a mindset of efficiency mixed with a strong awareness of the importance of the public good. It gives me the ability to create effective, aesthetic, and socially useful solutions that are replicable for new problems. This applies both to the way we dress, to how one landscapes, to where it welcomes its employees, to how we solve business problems.

CP. A text from Paul Virilio made me realize early on that the best design solutions are often those that are the least visible; by being so efficient and in perfect in harmony with its required function and its environment, it tends not to appear as a full-fledged achievement, but rather a natural extension of an environment (or tool) which serves un anonymously. Design is not a profession in itself but a manner of addressing the issues, across any scale and context, with an agile mind, a keen sense of observation (assimilating the DNA of its environment, in particular its strengths and needs), coupled with a search for perfection. Design is the product of a constant search for efficiency and innovation - the main tool of any creator. The project developer, the entrepreneur – those who actively participate in growing and shaping the evolution of our society, at their very own scale - wield no tool more valuable than his/her talent as a designer.