AKQA has expanded again, acquiring a majority stake in Universal Design Studio and industrial design consultancy, Map Project Office, which will extend its capabilities into space design and product design. The two new agencies currently work on industrial design, furniture, lighting and site-specific installations.
The agency has been on an aggressive growth journey since 2016. In August last year, it acquired a majority stake in Danish digital agency, DIS/PLAY. In February last year, it expanded into Australia by absorbing creative technology agency and WPP stablemate, DT. Prior to that, it had opened offices in Italy, Brazil, Sweden and the UK.
“Every industry is either transforming or being transformed because of convergence,” stated Ajaz Ahmed, chief executive officer, AKQA.
“AKQA has and will continue to play an influential role in the convergence of multimedia together with the accessibility and ubiquity of connected devices. Now it’s about playing a role in the convergence of other industries, such as product design, environment design, retail and hospitality.”
The newly acquired agencies were both founded by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby – Universal Design Studio in 2001 and Map Project Office in 2012. Barber, Osgersby and key employees will keep a minority stake in their agencies. Each will retain its current branding and organisational structures. The three agencies will come together at AKQA’s London studio and establish bases at key AKQA offices internationally. A dedicated research lab will also be set up in the London studio where teams from all three disciplines will collaborate.
With the acquisition, AKQA has grown to around 2,100 in 23 studios across the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.