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Apple’s Revamping Its Retail Stores, and Growing Trees Inside

This past October, Microsoft was all aflutter with the launch of Windows 7 and its very own retail store. And those stores bore an uncanny resemblance to Apple’s. Apple is now fighting back with a “new prototype for the company.”

everybody wants a Mac

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This past October, Microsoft was all aflutter with the launch of Windows 7 and its very own retail store. And those stores bore an uncanny resemblance to Apple’s. Apple is now fighting back with a “new prototype for the company.”

The first new store design will be in downtown Palo Alto, near one they opened in 2001. According to the Silicon ValleyMercury News:

The facade will be entirely
transparent at ground level, vast skylights will flood the store with
natural light, and trees will grow inside, fed by the sunlight from
above, according to a proposal submitted to the city’s architectural
review board

The architect on the project will be Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the same firm responsible for Apple’s transparent cube on 5th Avenue, in New York City. But where that design was almost purely symbolic–the cube wasn’t part of the store, as much as a fancy entrances for it–the new glass-fronted design is meant to dissolve the boundary with the sidewalk. It’ll become an inside/outside space that feels like a part of the urban fabric. Or a fishtank, depending on your view.

(In terms of architectural forebears, think of Philip Johnson’s iconic Glass House or Rem Koolhaas’s Prada Epicenter in Beverly Hills, whose entire front is open-air.)

In addition to a light and airy feel, the new store, according to Apple’s planning documents, is meant to be less of a retail outlet, and more of a knowledge center: “Fully half the function of the store serves to provide education and service to business as well
as customer patrons in addition to product sales. The store is a
commons for the applicant’s community to gather.

And that of course capitalizes on the fact that Apple has always been about not only products, but the Apple cult/culture. Which might be insufferable to some. But can you think of another brand that could even make such a claim without sounding totally silly?

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[Image by Procsilas]

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About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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