AKQA acquires majority stake in Universal Design Studio & Map Project Office

Ajaz Ahmed, Jay Osgerby and Edward Barber

AKQA has acquired a majority stake in architecture and interior design practice Universal Design Studio and industrial design consultancy Map Project Office to form a new multidisciplinary design group.

The two design firms, which were both founded by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, will remain distinct companies and their co-founders will continue to serve as board directors.

But they will now come together under AKQA's roof to offer digital and material design services from the innovation agency's London studio.

AKQA chief executive Ajaz Ahmed 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."

Barber and Osgerby added: “We are delighted to join a community that shares our ethos of collaboration and innovation. This new partnership with AKQA will give us the opportunity to redefine the interface between architecture, product and experience design.”

Born out of a desire to marry advancements in materials science, data science and cognitive science, the joint venture will span all of these fields to broaden the reach of the current service design ecosystem.

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

AKQA Shanghai recently named Sam Sterling as its new managing director.

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