Made Thought, Map Project Office and Universal Design Studio join forces to form The New Standard

After AKQA acquires a majority share in Made Thought, the three studios are combining to create a new industry powerhouse that aims to “redefine the contemporary design agency as the antithesis of singular multidisciplinary studios”.

Date
6 December 2021

Branding and design agency Made Thought is uniting with Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby’s Universal Design Studio and Map Project Office to create a new agency called The New Standard. Creative agency AKQA is taking a majority stake in Made Thought, supporting the founding of the new studio, after Map and Universal joined the agency in 2018. The New Standard aims to “redefine the contemporary design agency as the antithesis of singular multidisciplinary studios,” giving each studio creative independence as well as the space to collaborate, on what it refers to as “original, joined-up, cross-platform thinking”. They will work together in a “collegiate style” on brand, space, industrial design and materials science projects.

Announcing its launch this morning, the agency says in a release that it was created in response to a global business landscape that’s “changing faster than anyone could have predicted,” much like early generations of the design agency were born out of significant world events, and that it believes design can “play a pivotal role in what comes next”.

“Creativity is the most important currency for business in the 21st Century and we believe collaboration is the key to bigger, bolder thinking,” Made Thought’s founding partners Paul Austin and Ben Parker say in a statement. “For us, the coming together with Universal, Map, alongside AKQA, is the best way to see in this new age of design.”

Ajaz Ahmed, CEO of AKQA, says each of the three studios are “pioneers and innovators” and that the partnership is “founded on the beliefs that form and substance are inseparable, and creativity is both revealed and enhanced in an atmosphere of collaboration.

“As the industry consolidates and homogeneity increasingly becomes the norm, the landscape is littered with communication clichés,” Ajaz explains to It’s Nice That. “But there are many clients who appreciate the significance of a differentiating idea and distinction from the artfulness of craft. These are the clients attracted to our team.”

Made Thought is known for working with innovative brands, big and small, including Pinterest, Stella McCartney, LVMH, Paul Smith and MoMA. Architecture and interior design practice Universal Design Studio was founded in 2001 by Barber and Osgerby, and has created everything from hotels and workspaces to public realm design for Ace Hotel, Google, the V&A and lots more. Map Project Office also grew out of Barber Osgerby’s design studio, working on industrial design products with a focus on technological innovation bridging the gap “between people and technology, the real world and the virtual”. Together their combined client list comprises companies “responsible for redefining every facet of modern life, from start-ups to global corporations and those innovating entirely new experiences,” says the release.

It marks a full circle for the studios, as Universal and Made Thought shared a space 20 years ago.

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Made Thought: Pinterest (Copyright © Pinterest, 2021)

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Made Thought: Paul Smith (Copyright © Paul Smith, 2021)

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Map Project Office: Sky Glass (Copyright © Sky TV, 2021)

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Map Project Office: Sky Glass (Copyright © Sky TV, 2021)

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Universal Design Studio: Holiland Shanghai (Copyright © Seth Powers, 2021)

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Universal Design Studio: BBC Pavilion Cannes (Copyright © Charles Hosea Photography, 2021)

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny (she/her) is online editor of It’s Nice That, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output. She was previously news editor for five years. Contact her with stories, pitches and tips relating to the creative industries on jb@itsnicethat.com.

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