Written by Lyndsey Dennis
Design: Foster + Partners
Opening date: October 2016
Store size: Undisclosed
Apple opened its first retail store in Europe on London’s Regent Street in 2004. This week, the global brand unveiled a new look for the store, the result of a close collaboration between Apple’s teams led by Jonathan Ive, chief design officer, and Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of retail at Foster + Partners.
The re-imagined flagship marks the continuing evolution of Apple, going beyond retail to create richer, more dynamic experiences for visitors. The design creates a relaxed environment while incorporating Apple’s new features and services. The store occupies the same building, with the Grade II listed historic facade now restored and preserved.
‘On Regent Street we preserved the incredible exterior facade while opening up the interior of the store to enhance the transparency and flood the space with natural light. By choosing materials sympathetic to the historic nature of the building, we’re able to modernise the space while remaining authentic to its surrounds,’ explains Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief design officer.
The new Apple Regent Street is about a respectful dialogue between old and new – carrying forwarda heritage of craftsmanship in a contemporary way,’ says Stefan Behling, architect at Foster + Partners. ‘Contained within its historic fabrics is a new grand “town square” with trees that bring nature into the interior spaces. 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, in addition to a diverse and vibrant programme of events. It is a place for people to meet and collaborate, and most of all it will be an exciting experience that goes beyond retail.’
(c) Nigel Young – Foster + Partners
Characteristic of the Apple flagships, the space is a 7.2m double-height grand hall which forms the ‘town square’ like space that is flexible and welcoming. The design enhances transparency from the street and floods the store with natural light, dramatically improving the visual connection between the two levels. The store also features the longest luminous celing panels in the world that cover the entire ceiling. These custom made lighting panels emit a pure, even, white light and also have the capability to abosrb ambient noise.
Foster + Partners used a warm palette of materials including store, wood and terrazzo that is sympathetic to the history of the building. The store has a calm setting with the increased height allowing for the addition of 12 Ficus Ali trees on the ground level, brining nature in store. Apple’s ID Studio and Foster + Partners designed the planters that double as comfrotable places to sit and rest.
The signature Apple display tables are set against the backdrop of the new Avenue. A completely redesigned wall display allows people to touch, feel and try out the Apple products and accessories in an engaging and hands-on way.
Occupying a prime position in the store, the Forum is a new learning environment where experts from various fields can entertain, inspire and teach. A vast video wall acts as an animated backgrop for the entire store.
(c) Nigel Young – Foster + Partners
Along the side walls, a staircase on either side of the screen draws visitors up to the new mezzanine level set amongst the treetops. The walls and staircases are made from sandblasted stone, while the balustrade – seemlingly carved in to the wall – has a smooth, curved and honed finish that is pleasant to touch. The stone walls and balustrade were created by a combination of handcraftsmanship and CNC robotics, and were dry assembled at the manufacturing sitre to make sure each piece fit perfectly before installation.
Overlooking the grand hall, the mezzanine hosts the Apple’s Geniuses, where visitors can get assistance to setup their device or answers related to any product-reated queries. It also houses the Boardroom, a place for meetings, conversations and partnerships that can be used by app developers, digital entrepreneurs and other small start-ups to become part of the Apple family.