What happens when new innovators take over old spaces

The concept of space is inherent to innovation. There is a reason you think differently from one space to another – spaces have intentions, they have outputs. 

When launching PLACE in 2016, the question of space was paramount. Our aim was to tap into the potential of the newcomer communities in Paris, London and Berlin and ask them to innovate – not for themselves, but for society at large. We needed a space that would inspire the depth of reflection and subsequent innovation we were asking for. We needed a space that would put the innovators, migrants and refugees recently arrived in Europe during the midst of the so-called ‘migrant crisis’, in the position of creators and not beneficiaries.

One of the first spaces to answer the call was the Théâtre de l’Odéon de l’Europe, a gilded 19th-century theatre in the heart of Paris. Equipped with an outstanding foyer of golden angels looking down upon visitors, a dramatic stage framed by draping velvet curtains and a patio overlooking an unusually quiet nook of the bustling Latin Quarter – the Théâtre de l’Odéon de l’Europe was far from synonymous with the perception of migration at that time. It was perfect. 

Since June 2017, the Théâtre de l’Odéon de l’Europe has become a home to migrant-led-innovation. PLACE, with our nomadic kit for pop-up Innovation Labs, transforms the space from a theatre of old to a hub of innovation. Equipped with leading innovation tools, newcomers are then ready to embody their roles as creators of new solutions.

Through PLACE the Théâtre de l’Odéon de l’Europe has been able to open their space to a new demographic that was previously excluded from their target market. A new demographic, with new tastes in arts and cultures, that is ready to grow alongside this iconic theatre as it adapts to the new trends and audiences.  

In June 2020 The Théâtre de l’Odéon de l’Europe will be opening its doors to migrant-led-innovation again. For two days PLACE will transform this iconic theatre into a laboratory for new solutions, stories and leaders. Watch this space to see how you can experience what happens when new innovators take over old spaces this summer.