Their solution is a new initiative called Atelier100: a design incubator, mentorship program and physical shop all rolled into one, which launches this spring in London. The vision is to become the go-to local community for creatives and manufacturers. Here's how it works: Atelier100 is essentially a platform for making new things. Designers, makers, creators, manufacturers and production studios within a 100km radius of central London (hence the ‘100’ in the name) can apply to the program. All must have a desire to create amazing products and with a hyper-local focus. That's when Atelier100's ecosystem kicks in, introducing local materials, access to funding, mentoring and advice, and the space to make it all happen. When finished products emerge from this creative cauldron, they're then sold in Atelier100's physical shop – sandwiched between IKEA's and H&M's new stores in London's Hammersmith neighborhood – and eventually on an online marketplace, too.
The two brands see their role as akin to that of a record label – acting as an enabler for creative people to do what they do best. ‘From the very start, we agreed that this is not about us; it's about the creatives,’ Marcus says. ‘We're giving the mic to them – that's important to us.’ Just as a record label provides its musicians with everything from audio production services to marketing, H&M and Ingka Group intend to provide the creatives at Atelier100 with advice on product development, communication, making things at scale, and more. They'll do the same thing for the manufacturing partners as well. ‘If you get manufacturers, creatives and consumers closer together, you'll end up with a better product, a better service and a better solution,’ Marcus says, referring to the opportunity that Atelier100 has to develop a more holistic and therefore impactful ecosystem of production. The idea is that this will create a much stronger creative industry, one that benefits all parties.