Design

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Apple Store overhaul on the cards

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The minimalist Apple Store design is set to get a major overhaul by senior vice president of design, Sir Jony Ive. The redesign comes at a time when the company are poised to launch their new Apple Watch, and when there is rife speculation about whether or not Apple is moving into the electric car business. The news was unearthed in a profile piece on Ive in the New Yorker magazine, in which Ian Parker found that he was working closely with Angela Ahrendts, Apple's senior vice president of retail, on a redesign of the stores, of which there are now more than 400 worldwide.

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Angela Ahrendts

The idea is to make the stores feel more fashion-centric and upmarket, in order to align with the highly fashionable watch, which it being marketed as more of an accessory than a gadget, and looks set to be one of the company's biggest hits yet! Ive also commented that, whilst Apple stores have always traditionally been carpet-less, he had overheard people saying that the wouldn't buy a watch from a store without a carpet. Whether or not this means they'll finally bite the bullet and bow to convention remains to be seen though. Parker, who has been writing for The New Yorker since 1994, added that he believes he has gathered from talking to Ive that “The new spaces will surely become a more natural setting for vitrines filled with gold (and perhaps less welcoming, at least in some corners, to tourists and truants).”

The Apple Store design is set to get a major overhaul by senior vice president of design, Sir Jony Ive

Parker also saw plans for a new bespoke Apple Watch display cabinet, that the store's staff access through a motorised flap that apparently looks like “The ramp at the rear of a cargo plane.” The new watch area will undoubtedly be the biggest new feature of the store, and is described by Parker as something of a “VIP area,” though it's unclear just how much different Ahrendts and Ive believe the stores need to be. Indeed, when it comes to just how drastic the redesign will be, all we have to go on is second-hand information, but it's unlikely the design will be all that shocking, especially in Europe, where Apple only recently registered its store designs as a trademark (they did likewise in the US back in 2010).

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Sir Jony Ive

The report, however, does reaffirm a separate report from earlier in the month, which also said that Ahrendts was planning major physical changes for the Apple stores, and that certain changes, such as a new seating area, were expected to be implemented before the Apple Watch is launched in April. Speaking of the watch, it is expected to retail for $349 (which translates to around £217, meaning we'll probably be looking at £249.99 at a guess). It features a “digital crown” touchscreen interface and comes in materials including black stainless steel, silver or grey aluminium and 18-carat gold.

Ive is working closely with Angela Ahrends, Apple's senior vice president of retail

Ive's involvement with the anticipated changes to the Apple Store underlines the increasingly important role the designer is playing in all facets of the company. He was given greater responsibility at Apple in 2012 as part of an executive shakeup that put him in charge of design of both hardware and software in future products, and he is becoming a more visible presence in the media as the company continues to distinguish itself as a technology brand with a heavy focus on design.

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Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK. He would like to tell himself he won't be getting an Apple Watch, but he'd be lying to himself.

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