Apple showed off its new store design under design chief Jony Ive and head of retail Angela Ahrendts at its new flagship in San Francisco, opening this weekend.
The already minimalist approach of Apple stores has been cleaned up further, with hidden outlets on tables and wall-mounted headphone displays. The store features a Jumbo-tron-esque video screen that has shown up in other new Apple stores, a "living wall," and, perhaps most important of all, those roaming associates equipped with iPads to help customers. The new store is also powered by 100% renewable energy.
The new design has already been used in stores in four cities across the globe, and will influence new Apple stores and redesigns of current Apple stores going forward.
Upon arriving at Apple from Burberry, Angela Ahrendts' first order of business was to pump up its online retail operations. But from the beginning there’s been no question that her longtime experience at fashion house Burberry gives her a luxe aesthetic.
In some ways, Ahrendts approach is an intensifying of Apple’s already more upscale attitude.
Almost immediately she had her teams clean up stores, dropping many peripheral items that don’t pass muster, seeking unique packaging from companies selling items in Apple stores, and finding ways to streamline customer service. New Apple stores being designed and built worldwide may be positioned to appeal to customers who can afford to pay for design and performance.
The company’s products are already expensive compared to that of its competitors and its new watch is in many ways especially geared to luxury shoppers (at least its more upscale versions). And Steve Jobs’s thought out and meticulous design philosophy has been top of mind in the company for years.
Ive's designs have carried on Job's tradition and have lent the brand its minimalist yet upscale Euro flare to what are essentially mass market items. Most Apple products have the look and feel of a luxury item — and the same luxury customers shopping for upscale goods are probably texting each other on iPhones.
Apple stores like the one just now opening in San Francisco will be water cooler topics for city dwellers who may love or loathe their introduction— but that’s how it usually goes with new buildings. A broader question will be whether over time their clear inward focus—a stress on technology and on Apple itself—will evolve to become part of the host city’s built environment or remain apart as a strong branding effort.