October 15th saw the grand reopening of Apple’s Regent Street store, which has been closed for major refurbishment for almost a year. We braved the crowds to see Apple’s reinvigorated approach to retail.
Whilst press were given an early preview of the new space on Thursday, the public weren’t allowed in until 10am on Saturday, and just as with any Apple product launch day, fans of the brand were lining up around the block to see the newly reworked interior, welcomed by cheering lines of Apple staff as they entered.
The store, which originally opened in 2004, serving as the company’s European flagship location, has accommodated over 60 million customers thus far and the refurbishment serves as a way to better marry Apple’s retail experience with its current brand image.
The newly designed interior comes courtesy of a partnership with Foster + Partners, who have been tasked we redesigning numerous Apple stores throughout the globe, not to mention the company’s new Campus 2, currently under construction in Cupertino, California. Additional input on the project also comes from an internal team at Apple, headed up by chief design officer, Sir Jony Ive.
The new interior adopts a softer and warmer feel than the previous Tim Kobe-designed store, which featured a centrally positioned glass staircase, a mezzanine and metal-plated wall panels.
As you enter, you step onto a white terrazzo floor whilst the walls of the redesigned store are hewn from sandblasted Castagna stone, which covers the edges of the interior, leading to two beautifully sculpted staircases that stand either side of an area called the “Forum”. There are freestanding oak stools clustered around a huge display in this space, which doubles as a presentation area for events that take place throughout the year.
Removing the mezzanine has also created a double-height entranceway that spans a full seven meters from floor to ceiling, designed to let more natural light into the space, which was a key part of the reasoning behind the refurbishment.
The additional height has also allowed for twelve Fiscus Ali trees to be installed which feature up lighting and bases with integrated seating. At the top of the staircase you enter the Genius Bar, where, as ever, specialist Apple staff are on hand to help customers with products questions and queries.
A company as large and as visible as Apple constantly faces criticisms, not just as a result of its products or its software but its brand image too. The company’s retail stores serve as a physical embodiment of its core values and its direction as seen with the newly-refurbished Regent Street store and other key locations throughout the globe serve to reaffirm its retail presence.