Apple reinvents the retail experience - again

Nic Crowther
Mon 30 May

Since launching fifteen years ago, Apple Stores have been of fascination to retail consultants, design buffs and anyone looking to steal free wifi.

With almost 500 stores now open across the world, the latest offering is shaking up the very definition of a store.



For the new Union Square outlet in San Francisco, Apple teamed up with Foster & Partners to design the look of the space with a new direction that brings the store into the adjacent public space.

Since being awarded the design contract for the new Apple 2 Campus (aka: The Spaceship), collaborations between the two companies have been steadily increasing.


Apple Store, Hangzhou China


Foster & Partners are known for introducing the ‘floating’ second floor to Apple stores. Through the use of a cantilevered design, the floor tapers to a thin edge that gives it a lightness that almost defies gravity.

This technique was first ‘floated’ in the Hangzhou store opened in early 2015, and the Union Square version offers further refinement.



However, it’s more interesting to see the guiding hand of retail guru, Angela Ahrendts present in the new layout. For the first time, the giant panes of glass that have typified Apple’s bricks-and-mortar presence, can be fully opened to allow the interior and exterior to merge.

Apple has invested heavily in the space outside the store with the intent of making this available to visitors 24 hours a day. The company plans to hold concerts, picnics and other outdoor activities to activate the greenspace in downtown San Francisco.



Giving Apple’s preference for free-standing buildings outside of shopping malls, this blurring of spaces makes sense. By bringing plants into the actual store the lines become even more transparent, and it’s a nice touch to offset the glass, aluminium and square wooden tables that we’ve come to expect.

All this is very important because of the value of foot-traffic to Apple. In 2015, the company again topped retail lists by generating and average of AU$64,000 per square metre for the year.



To give you an idea of what that means the average Apple Store is around 840 square metres. With 500 locations, that’s works out to be around AU$27 billion per annum for the tech giant.

Little wonder then that everyone is watching to see of the San Fran experiment pays off.


[The Verge]