Apple stores getting reboot as company unveils new store design


One of the most successful formats in the history of retailing is about to get a makeover.

Apple Inc. unveiled its vision for the future of its retail empire, opening a two-level flagship in San Francisco with new design flourishes and service elements that will be rolled out to Apple stores worldwide.

The sleek, streamlined design emphasizes community, interaction and education, with a sizeable part of the store devoted to an open area, called The Forum, where visitors can learn about the company's assorted software and hardware offerings. Centered around a 35-ft.-wide, high-definition video wall, the space includes year-round programs for kids, monthly events for teachers, sessions for current and aspiring developers, sessions in partnership with local experts in creative arts and more.

“Fifteen years ago today Apple opened its first two stores and we’re thrilled to mark the occasion with the opening of Apple Union Square in San Francisco,” said Apple’s senior VP of retail and online stores Angela Ahrendts who led the revamp along with Apple design chief Jonathan Ive. “We are not just evolving our store design, but its purpose and greater role in the community as we educate and entertain visitors and serve our network of local entrepreneurs."

In other big changes, Apple’s signature Genius Bar has evolved into the Genius Grove, where customers can get assistance under a canopy of local trees that have been placed in the heart of the store.

The company is also introducing an area called The Avenue, which features interactive themed displays, or “windows,” that will change seasonally and allow Apple’s products and services — from music to apps to photography and more—to come to life. Dedicated Apple associates, “creative pros,” will be hand at each display to offer advice and expertise at each of the displays.

Also new is The Boardroom, an intimate area where entrepreneurs, developers and other small and medium business customers can get expert advice.

The San Francisco store also includes an art-filled outdoor plaza, which offers seating, public Wi-Fi, and a 50-ft. tall “green wall.” Open 24 hours a day, the area will feature a weekend series of local acoustic performances and global talents. It will be found only at Apple’s “most significant” locations, the company said.

Architecturally, the new Apple is stunning, with 42-ft.-tall sliding glass doors making up its street-facing façade. The doors can open, effectively making the store interior and outside one.

“We have a deep commitment to the cities we work in, and are aware of the importance that architecture plays in the community,” said Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief design officer. "It all starts with the storefront — taking transparency to a whole new level — where the building blends the inside and the outside, breaking down barriers and making it more egalitarian and accessible.”

Click here for more on the store and photos.