Apple’s new tree-filled flagship
Apple has re-opened its 12-year-old London flagship after a major overhaul that reflects the company’s updated store strategy.
Located on Regent Street, the redone space has an airy look and natural feel, with an open glass façade, high ceilings, oversized windows and plenty of room to move around. The increased ceiling height allowed for the addition of twelve Ficus Ali trees, complete with planters that double as a comfortable place to sit. Two “living” walls are covered with greenery.
The ceiling is covered with custom-made luminous panels that emit a pure, even, white light, and have the capability to absorb ambient noise.
In a notable feature, most of the devices in the store are untethered to the display tables, allowing customers to move freely around with them and even see how they fit in their pockets or handbags. (Phones reportedly set off an alarm if they are taken out of the space and immobilized if not returned.)
The store’s former glass staircase — a signature element in many Apple flagships — has been replaced by two staircases made from sandblasted stone. The staircases lead to a mezzanine level, where customers can get assistance from Apple’s experts (this area replaces the former Genius Bar feature). It’s also home to a meeting space (the “Boardroom”) for app developers, digital entrepreneurs, small business customers and the like.
The design is a collaboration between Apple’s teams, led by chief design officer Jonathan Ive and senior VP of retail Angela Ahrendts, and London-based architecture firm Foster + Partners.
Similar to Apple’s new San Francisco store (also designed by Foster + Partners), the design puts an emphasis on the idea of community and envisions the store as a public, gathering place. Prime space on the first floor is devoted to “The Forum,” a space for live events and Apple’s educational outreach.
“Everything from the vast luminous ceiling to the sculptural stone handrails create an experience that is warm and inviting, providing a calm backdrop for everyone to experience Apple’s incredible products,” said Stefan Behling, architect at Foster + Partners. “It is a place for people to meet and collaborate, and most of all, it will be an exciting experience that goes beyond retail.”