Apple's design refinement extends to its storefront architecture

Apple's design refinement extends to its storefront architecture

Summary: The ifoApplestore blog explores the careful considerations of design at Apple's retail stores, including the sidewalk elements.

TOPICS: Browser, Apple

A recent post at the ifoApplestore blog explores the careful considerations of design at Apple's retail stores, including the sidewalk elements.

Blogger Gary Allen said that what appears to be a simple storefront is a carefully designed piece of architecture, where the "new sidewalk, store window panels and inside stone floor tiles all are dimensioned and positioned to present a symmetrical appearance."

In this case, the master element is the stone floor tiles, which are 76 centimeters square (about 30 inches). The glass window panes are then manufactured to a multiple of that dimension.

There's a drawing on the site that shows the various elements and their relationships of the new 4th Street store in Berkeley.

I was once told a tale about the design of the first Apple Store back in 2001. A full-sized mockup of the store was built inside a warehouse in Santa Clara, Calif., where all of the shelves and counters and other store elements were put on coasters. Every morning, Steve Jobs would walk into the warehouse and move things around. Maybe again in the afternoon. This continued until everything was in its proper spot.

Topics: Browser, Apple

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  • I do believe that was simply a tale, and not based on fact

    to add to the illusion that Steve Jobs himself designed the concept, and the not the five specialized firms hired to create the design as we see it today.

    That does a diservice to those who envisioned the layout.

    Tim Cook
    • That does a disservice to Steve Jobs...

      @Mister Spock: ... who is well noted for his hands-on approach to every aspect of the business. Yes, he hired designers, but let me ask you this: what other stores have they designed that realizes the sales per square foot that the Apple Store does. It's obvious that Apple is still tweaking the concept, but I've never seen a store more crowded for the price of its products than an Apple store.

      Personally, I think it's a true story and that Jobs was willing to foot the cost of building a full-scale mockup first rather than simply slapping a storefront out and hoping for the best. I seem to remember how all the pundits emphasized Gateway's store failure when the first Apple store opened.
  • Most leading retailers have such a warehouse...

    Whilst Steve may or may not have wheeled the pieces around, such a concept is not foreign. I've seen full size supermarkets & department stores laid into warehouses. In a well known example, Tesco set up a Fresh & Easy store inside a Californian warehouse for months before opening a single store.
    It's an expensive idea, but allows focus groups & left-brained people (Accountants etc) to "get the picture", & is so much more effective than a fly-through.
  • RE: Apple's design refinement extends to its storefront architecture

    Is any of this for real? It reads like a sly, and hilarious send up of the Apple cult?
    • RE: Apple's design refinement extends to its storefront architecture

      Apple cult? what are you talking about?
      Most good architects think about alignment and order in their designs. It is a hallmark of an architect's training. The only difference here is that Apple actually hires competent architects to design their stores rather than low budget contractors that pump out Targets and CompUSA's
  • There is a mockup done for every new opening

    There is a room in the building where I trained to be a Mac Genius that serves as a mock up space for new Apple Retail Stores. When I was there my store was still being built. That means that although I unloaded fixtures and stock and equipment off of the trucks, there were people on the other side of the country who knew what the store would look like before we even began "assembling" it.

    Due to an unfortunate fact of the building's architecture, we had to make a change to the layout of the displays. It was 2005 and we had one CRT based Mac on the sales floor (eMac). The first one had a horrible image stability problem. The second one did as well. After a few days I discovered that the main electrical trunk line for the store ran precisely behind the eMac's position in the store front, causing interference with the CRT image. We had to request permission from Cupertino to display that Mac in a different location, despite the fact that having it where it was would make you nauseous if you actually tried to use the thing.

    And yes, as of 2005 Steve Jobs and/or Ron Johnson was still doing a walk through and final approval of every singel new store floorplan/layout before the stores were built. This doesn't mean every single store, but every time there was a new or changed element (moving to wooden tables from white for example) to the stores it would be approved at the highest level.
  • Casters, not coasters...

    I imagine most people understood that you meant the components could be easily moved around, and spell check would miss this; but those items that allowed Steve to move all the components of the Apple Store mock-up around are casters, not coasters.