City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

Learning in store

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I’ve long been interested in the broad lessons we can draw from architecture and physical experience design within architecture. Previously on cityofsound, I’ve posted about the information architecture of Liberty of London, Prada NYC, supermarkets but more importantly record stores.

In this context, there’s a interesting piece by Jesse James Garrett over at Adaptive Path on the design of the Apple stores, and what tenets we can draw from their approach (broadly positive though not without negative). To whit: experience design, honoring context, instituting consistency, prioritising messages, the ‘human factor’ and so on.

And this section tweaked my adaptive design antennae:

"5. Design for change.
Where rapid change needs to be accommodated, the Apple Store has mechanisms to support it. The front window displays are rigged using simple flat panels mounted on tracks and cables. This system allows the displays to be changed quickly and easily (and, one would guess, economically) while still allowing a diverse range of possibilities for grabbing the attention of passersby. It’s unclear how well the store as a whole will accommodate change, however. In the last six years, the aesthetic of Apple’s products has been overhauled twice: first, when Apple broke from the industry-standard beige boxes with the curvy, colored translucent plastics of the original iMac in 1998; then again when they moved to their current white-and-metallic look, starting with the Titanium PowerBook G4 in 2001. What will become of the interior design of the Apple stores when the next shift in product design hits? Will the stores close down one by one for renovation to bring them in line with Apple’s new design direction? Or will they remain a snapshot of Apple’s current motifs, growing further and further outdated?"

Adaptive Path: Six Design Lessons from the Apple Store


One response to “Learning in store”

  1. Andrew Avatar

    The Apple Store is essentially an art gallery. Mostly white walls, flexible display space, and podiums for objects. It’s a space that’s nondescript when empty, and doesn’t compete with its contents when full. I suspect that the basic aspects of the interior design will stay fixed through subsequent product design changes.


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