I used to live in Fairfax Virginia, about 10 minutes away from Tyson’s Corner Mall. Tyson’s Corner was the mythical location of the first Apple Store which opened in the summer of 2001.
When I first visited the Apple Store in 2001, it was like setting foot inside a gallery: very quiet, uncrowded, with patrons admiring Job’s masterpieces, slowly moving from one item to the next. Just before I left for Korea, I had a chance to visit the NYC 5th Avenue store. It was a madhouse.
However despite the difference in atmosphere, what remained the same in both cases was the consistency of the user experience throughout the store conveyed through the layout, knowledgeable staff and careful choice of architectural materials that furnish each store.
Our experience of a store is first impacted by the materials our senses register. Think of a GAP store compared to a Urban Outfitters store. It’s not surprising that someone took the time to take apart all the materials and furnishing in an Apple store, in case you want to build yourself a shrine to Apple’s retailing success in your living room.
A project that I was peripherally involved in was the iriver booth for CES 2008. iriver, best known in the US for its un-iPod MP3 players and other digital devices, is one of only a handful of companies in Korea that maintains a strict control over its products and branding image, much in the same way that Apple does. VINYL the company I work for (along with 607)was responsible for designing and installing the iriver booth (link in Korean). The team took a lot of care to project a clean, sterile environment and even suggested that iriver hire knowledgeable local fans to man the booth. The booth ended up on the Top 25 Booths as selected by Tech-Em and Event Marketer magazine. The most successful part of the booth in my mind is the interactive projection. When a visitor stand in front of the projection, speech bubble pop up above their shadow and follow them around, showing whimsical graphics. The walls of the booth is actually a screen, so all this interaction can also be viewed from the exterior, drawing curious visitor to come inside.
(Photo credit: Vinyl VLab)