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Universal Design Studio and Map Project Office join AKQA, integrating Experience, Architecture and Industrial Design

Innovation agency AKQA is to form a pioneering alliance with architecture and interior design practice Universal Design Studio and industrial design consultancy Map Project Office, in a move that redefines the concept of a 21st century design group.

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To create this collaborative new venture, AKQA, a WPP Company, has acquired a majority stake in Universal Design Studio and Map Project Office; both will remain distinct companies, with co-founders Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby continuing to provide strategic oversight as board directors.

Strategically positioning the trio of interdisciplinary award-winning design practices in an innovative partnership, the studios will now offer integrated, as well as existing services enhanced by their combined expertise and approach to designing for the digital age.

Working together across teams, locations and clients, the group will design intuitive, aesthetic and interactive solutions that challenge the artificial barriers that presently exist between interfaces, the spaces we inhabit and the objects we use in an increasingly connected world. In recognition that built and digital environments are no longer conceived in isolation of one another, and with continued advancements in materials science, data science and cognitive science, the creative practices are uniquely positioned to design connected touchpoints across physical and digital realms through the entire customer ecosystem.

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, co-founders of Universal Design Studio and Map Project Office, said: "We are delighted to build a community that shares our ethos of collaboration and innovation. So much of our lives has been transformed by digital in recent times and this new partnership with AKQA will give us the opportunity to redefine the interface between architecture, product and experience design. For us this represents the future."

Ajaz Ahmed, CEO of AKQA, said: “Having admired Edward and Jay’s work for over 20 years, this venture is the realisation of a decades-long dream. It is the culmination of an exciting vision that embodies the spirit of invention we have always stood for; to push the limits and solve problems in unexpected ways. We proudly welcome the Universal Design Studio and Map Project Office teams and their philosophy, and look forward to discovering new possibilities and perspectives together, now, and long into the future.”

As award-winning innovators in their respective fields, the three design practices will create a new environment under the same roof at AKQA’s London studio in St John’s Lane, Smithfield, promoting collaboration across each discipline, while also establishing bases in key AKQA offices internationally. To help clients envision the opportunities and challenges of the future, a dedicated Research Lab will also be established in the Smithfield building where teams from all three disciplines will collaborate on self-generated projects.

Combined with Universal Design Studio and Map Project Office’s employees, AKQA employs around 2,100 professionals in 23 studios across the USA, Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

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Notes to Editors

Further information about the new venture: http://www.akqa.com/news/articles/2018-06-11-universal-design-studio_map-project-office-join-AKQA/

About AKQA

Founded by CEO Ajaz Ahmed in 1994, AKQA is renowned as a global design and innovation agency. Honours include over twenty Agency of the Year awards, twice leading Design Week's most awarded table and winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Innovation, the highest recognition for businesses in the UK. AKQA, a WPP company, employs around 2,000 professionals in 23 studios. In March 2018 AKQA was positioned highest for its ability to execute in the Leaders quadrant in Gartner’s 2018 independent evaluation that compares business transformation capabilities across consulting firms, agencies and systems integrators. www.akqa.com

About Universal Design Studio

Founded in 2001, Universal Design Studio was created in response to the growing demand for Barber & Osgerby’s distinctive design aesthetic and innovative use of material details in an architectural and interior design context. Led by co-directors Hannah Carter Owers and Jason Holley, with Group Managing Director Andrew Graham, Universal Design Studio was most recently the winner of the prestigious 2018 Building Design Interior Architect of the Year award and works internationally on commissions across retail, hospitality, workspaces, galleries and cultural institutions. Universal Design Studio has worked with clients including Ace Hotels, Frieze, the Design Museum, and the Science Museum. www.universaldesignstudio.com

About Map Project Office

Founded in 2012, Map Project Office is a creative consultancy with a strategy-led approach to industrial and user experience design. Led by co-directors Alex Hulme and Will Howe, with Group Managing Director Andrew Graham, Map’s growing team is a multi-disciplinary mix of experienced industrial designers, strategists and innovation experts. Named in 2016 as Creative Review’s Agency of the Year and Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, clients include world-renowned innovators and global brands such as IBM, Google and Yamaha, together with cultural institutions and ambitious start-ups like Kano and BeeLine. www.mapprojectoffice.com

About Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby’s diverse body of work spans industrial design, furniture, lighting and site-specific installations. Both Honorary Doctors of Arts, their research-led and multi-disciplinary approach to design manifests itself across the three studios the duo has founded; Barber & Osgerby (1996), Universal Design Studio (2001) and Map Project Office (2012). In 2007 Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby were awarded Royal Designers for Industry by the Royal Society of Arts, and in 2013 the designers were each awarded an OBE for their services to the design industry.

Contact:

For media enquiries and further information:
Camron PR
Maxine Rushworth
maxine.rushworth@camronpr.com
020 7420 1700

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