Special locations – per se – are not a rarity for Apple stores and comparatively not even worth mentioning. In Berlin, the Apple Store is located in a former movie theatre from the early 20th century and in Manhattan – of course – in the new World Trade Center.
The new flagship store at Union Square in San Francisco is no exception: impressive but especially due to the new spacial concept. Here, the future design of Apple’s sale shops can be observed. In the next years older stores will also be converted.
Apple Re-Invents Itself at Union Square in San Francisco
The store, now only called Apple Union Square, is wide open towards the square, which lets a lot of light in the ground and first floor. From the outside, you feel immediately invited to come in and from the inside the commercial area actually feels like an extension of the public city space.
In the crystalline box are the known counters with the well-known products. On the first floor, there are seating areas evoking the memory of a café and an about 15-meter-high video screen. The genius bar is now called genius grove and situated underneath shade providing ficus trees.
The Apple Union Square is the result of a cooperation between Apple’s sales director Angela Ahrendts and the design director Jony Ive. The products and plane gadgets are not supposed to be paramount in the stores but the entire experience of Apple should be reflected and made perceptible.
Apple’s Version of the Public Space
„We invent the role our stores and employees play in the community completely new”, explains Ahrendts to Fortune. „We want to be more like a town square, where the best of Apple comes together and everyone is welcome”.
This aspiration is shown particularly in two different rooms: With the boardroom there is a place, where companies can get consultation by Apple’s sales team and with The Plaza there is a kind of public space for concerts on the weekends.
Through the opening of the store towards Union Square and the Plaza at the back of the building, continuously supported with open Wi-Fi, Apple creates the illusion of a public space. But nevertheless, it is still the sales space of a quoted company.
Apple Stores are a Reflection of the Company
The Apple Union Square and all the other stores, which will soon be opened or re-modelled according to the example in San Francisco will deep down always remain sales businesses. The openness is faked and not more than a part of the company’s marketing strategy. But the picture of the concept behind the Apple Union Square painted by Ahrendts sounds significantly more beautiful than the truth: „We are renewing our focus on liberal arts – humanizing technology through experiences that educate and entertain visitors”. Well said.
With the new store concept, Apple manages to shift the focus even more on life style than on the overpriced appliances. Similar to how Starbucks made the visit of a coffee store into a global business idea, Apple manages this with stores purely created for iPhones and MacBooks. Chapeau!