Apple

Apple's New In-Store Innovation? Trees.

Is the Apple Genius Bar to be supplanted by Genius Groves?

Probably not.

But at least at some Apple locations, consumers will be having a more arboreal experience. In celebration of the 15th anniversary of the opening of the first Apple store, Apple decided to pull the curtain back on its new production — a new design for sales locations.

The new look is getting its first public viewing in San Francisco's Union Square. As of tomorrow, shoppers will walk through new 42-foot-tall glass doors that slide open to expose the interior to the street.

Aisles are wider, and more specialized and thematically determined depending on which type of Apple product (and which facet of the Apple lifestyle) is being featured. The new design also features an open "forum" space for classes and presentations.

And while much of that is standard operating procedure for retailers running after the customized in-store experience, the trees are unique and very Apple. The back of the second floor of the store is an arboretum of sorts, filled with ficuses, leather benches and customer service geniuses. Customers sit on the bench and get serene in the green, while techies fix their broken gadgets.

“We didn’t want it to feel like a store. We wanted it to feel like a town square — very open, and everyone invited,” Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and online stores, told reporters invited to Thursday’s preview.

While the store closes - the courtyard next to it does not and that courtyard features trees, a fountain, free Wi-Fi and seating for about 200 people. Apple says it plans to hold regular acoustic concerts there, and though we've received no official comment, we are sure the local homeless appreciate the nice place to sleep.

B. J. Siegel, Apple’s senior director of design and development, notes that the store is green in more ways than one since it draws its electricity from solar panels.

The idea, according to Apple SVP of retail and online stores Angela Ahrendts, is to make the Apple store a destination apart from just a place to shop.

“We want people to say, ‘Meet me at Apple,’” she said.

“The next generation just wants to flow,” Ahrendts said.

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