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a discussion-based group for those interested in integrating social impact into their work

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Site Credits

Photography: Stacey Salter Moore, Briana Balducci, Joseph Magnelli, David Chow, BK Narayanan, David Nguyen

Videography: Federica Nanfeng, Sarah M. Park

© 2020 by Studio ATAO, Inc. A 501(c)3 nonprofit.

The Studio’s newest venture is a community-based, facilitated discussion series for industry professionals to deep-dive into one question directly related to their work.


We just held our very first Salon in February 2020, and are hard at work learning from that and scheduling future events for the year. We hope you'll join us for the next one!


the experimental salons format

Experimental Salons are intimate (8-12 people), facilitated dinner-and-discussions tailored for professionals in specific industries to come together and discuss a pertinent question related to social impact. We curate the guest list per Salon, so the topic of the evening is specific, focused and intentional for the professionals attending.


During the Salons, we use a facilitation model that embraces positive conflict and addresses our own complicities in order to broach these difficult topics and create space for different viewpoints. The goal of each Salon is to reinforce personal responsibility to drive change and begin collective, immediate action after the event.


Our Salons bring together advocates who don't often find themselves in the same place, but are eager to work together to find solutions - especially over a comforting meal. After these community-centered events take place, our participants stay connected to each other, walking away with a like-minded group to help keep them accountable to moving the needle in their personal and professional life. We hope these salons are both powerful and discomforting for the people who join them, so we can all contribute to developing manageable, actionable solutions for dilemmas that often feel insurmountable.

How much do salons cost?

Our Experimental Salons are open for anyone in the public to register interest and will always be under $25. We resist the omnipresent pay-to-play model because we know what demographics of people are often left out of the room when tickets rise into the hundreds or thousands. We believe the dissemination of ideas must be open and available to everyone in order to build a more equitable future. 

where & when are salons happening?

We are currently hosting Salons in Los Angeles and New York City, with our next city being San Francisco. They are held in the evenings as all Salons also include a family-style dinner before the conversation begins.


We would absolutely love to bring these discussions to more places across the world - if you're interested in working with us to bring a Salon to your workplace, community or city please reach out to us so we can start the conversation!

What happens after each salon?

After each Salon we compile our learnings to create an Educational Resource on the evening's topic that will be made available to the public via our Resources blog and social media channels. We update these resource documents regularly as we continue to host Salons on the same, or related, topics.

discussion topics

We have so many topics in mind and are always trying to build more Salons to accommodate them all. We started 2020 close to our home base in the food industry and API community, and are actively seeking new partners and organizations to expand our discussions to new facets of these industries as well as new disciplines altogether. We are cognizant of our limitations, and know we need the guidance and partnership of other like-minded people and organizations to curate, moderate and drive the thoughtful conversations at the heart of our Salons.


If you're interested in working with us on a series of Salons pertinent to your industry - be it rebalancing opportunity in the cannabis boom or dissecting ableism in architecture - we would love to hear from you!

current topics

For food media professionals:

  • How Can Food Media Better Present Non-White Cultures Without Tokenizing Them?

  • Balancing Branded and Reported: How Can Writers and Marketers Better Work Together to Safeguard Journalism?

  • Linguistic Relativity in Writing: What is Lost in Translation?

For API leaders:

  • Xenophobia and Covid19 - What Do We Do Now?

  • How Can We Better Combat Anti-Blackness in API Communities?

  • The Ripple Effect of China’s Emerging Global Dominance: Learning to Navigate a Different USA

Intrigued? join us

We'll be releasing our full calendar of 2020 Experimental Salons via our Community Newsletter below.

You can read the recap our first Experimental Salon on February 26, 2020 here.​

community partners & sponsors

We are deeply appreciative to our partners and sponsors who believe in our Experimental Salons and its discussion format and enable us to continue bringing more of these events to life. If you're interested in opening up your space, providing nourishment or contributing in any other kind of way, we are all ears. Please email us at hello@studioatao.org, and we thank you kindly in advance.