Moments before unveiling the iPhone X, Apple executives introduced its new concept: Company stores that would double as public spaces, complete with outdoor plazas, indoor forums and designated boardrooms for local entrepreneurs.
"We think of Apple retail [stores] as Apple’s largest products," Angela Ahrendts, head of Apple's retail operations, said last week at an event unveiling the company's newest technology. "It's funny, we actually don't call them stores anymore. We call them town squares because they're gathering places where everyone is welcome."
The idea, she said, was to create outdoor plazas where people could “relax, meet up with friends, or just listen to a local artist on the weekends.” Inside the store, employees would teach children and adults how to code, take better photos, make movies and develop apps. And the company would rebrand its customer service areas as “genius groves,” complete with trees and other plants.
“As you know, Apple retail has always been about more than selling,” chief executive Tim Cook said at the same event. “It’s about learning, inspiring and connecting with people. Our stores are also the best place to go discover, explore and experience our new products.”
Shops and town squares have long existed alongside each other — consider the agoras of ancient Greece — but retail and architecture experts said they were unsure that Apple could successfully turn a retail store into a truly public space.
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