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February 20, 2015updated 19 Aug 2016 4:02pm

IBM refocuses business amid London office launch

Company reveals graduate program amid flurry of design hubs.

By Jimmy Nicholls

IBM has opened a design studio in London as part of the firms’ continued drive to reorient its business under the stewardship of chief executive Ginni Rometty.

Built inside the company’s traditional Southbank quarters, the office features a mix of open plan presentation spaces as well as ad hoc meeting booths, conforming to the move away from cubicle dominated workspaces.

Matt Candy, European leader of IBM Interactive Experience, said: "London is a creative epicenter that now boasts a powerful digital economy.

"IBM Studio London will bring exceptional digital experiences to our exceptional digital city, where some of our most forward-looking clients reside."

The opening means that London will join cities such as New York, Paris and Mexico city as IBM design hubs, which have been built along similar lines no matter what part of the world they are in.

The company is also on a recruitment drive to nab graduates from the world’s most prestigious design schools. Once hired the designers undergo a course to mould them for work at IBM, which the company has dubbed "the missing semester of design school".

John Mathers, chief executive of the Design Council, a lobby group for the field, said: "It’s an amazing time for designers in the UK. The creative industry here is suddenly becoming the big news.

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His group is seeking to foster the view that the arts can be as valuable to business as the scientific, technological, engineering and mathematical (STEM) subjects.

"Design is sometimes seen as a cynical way to get people to buy stuff they don’t need or cannot afford," said Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum. "But it’s also about making the world a better place."

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