Tech giant Apple shifts austere aesthetic with launch of the Jony Ive-headed Belgian Apple Retail StoreApple has debuted its newest Apple Retail Store, the first store opening under creative direction of CCO, Jony Ive. The Brussels-based store opened over the weekend and indicates a subtly warmer, more approachable version of the current design and layout.
Apple forums and fanboys have long anticipated the redesign of the Apple Retail Store. With competitors mimicking the design and consumer experience of the iconic brick-and-mortar shops across the globe, even the most unassuming changes in the new store raise speculation on the future of Apple’s aesthetic.
Located in Le Toison D’or, a new building designed by Dutch firm UNStudio and local studio Jaspers-Eyers Architects, the shop sits rather metaphorically in between the Porte Louise and the Port de Namur, two historical Belgian gates.
In 2001, Apple changed the face of retail with the launch of its first stores in Tysons Corner, Virginia and Glendale, California. With clean lines, open layout and seemingly stark interior, the tech company redefined product marketing and user interaction, the beginning of the 14-year-old and 400+ retail empire that stands today.
The newest installment of the chain displays a number of new features and design elements that position Apple more closely to a luxury lifestyle brand than a tech company. Most notably, the space is adorned with a row of potted trees accompanying the familiar layout of tables and products. While other elements are likely a direct byproduct of the building facade—the round-edged window panels are nestled perfectly into the rounded corner of the building exterior—the additional merchandise areas take a step toward fashion retail and the first step in redesigning the Apple experience.
Along the back wall of the store consumers will find a wall of back-lit Beats headphones set into a wooden display panel. Apple Watches are drawn out of the store’s iconic wood tables and cases are merchandised in cabinet-like drawers, both reminiscent of a trip to Bloomingdales or Barney’s accessory department. The Sports watch display takes cues from performance wear retailers, using the product to create dynamic and colorful layouts with a sense of movement. At the store’s end, passersby can stop and watch product content on a large screen (benches optional).
The new layout offers a more approachable and tangible experience for consumers which comes as no surprise with former-Burberry CEO at the helm of retail and online operations. Burberry has been praised as fashion’s tech innovator, incorporating digital activations alongside traditional retail for an optimal in-store experience that has come to define the luxury market.
As Apple continues to push the limits of tech-enabled utilities, they will have to continually expand the way in which they interact with consumers. With each new platform and service offered, the future of Apple design will continue to impact the face of retail from wearable tech to self-driving cars and beyond.