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Apple’s Designers Work Towards Storefront Symmetry

August 29, 2011

There is seemingly no limit to the manipulations that Apple store designers will make to ensure that the various elements of construction are aligned and pleasing to the eye. What looks like a simple retail storefront is actually a carefully designed, measured and constructed assemblage of glass, cement, metal and stone whose edges correspond. One of the best examples of Apple’s design craftiness is the just-opened 4th Street (N. Calif.) store, where the new sidewalk, store window panels and inside stone floor tiles all are dimensioned and positioned to present a symmetrical appearance. In this case, the master element is the stone floor tiles, which are 76 centimeters square (about 30 inches). The glass window panes are then manufactured to a multiple of that dimension. Outside, Apple routinely installs a new sidewalk in front of its street-facing stores. In this case, the sidewalk was made with contraction lines that are also multiple of the stone tile dimension. When all the painstaking design and construction work is finished, passersby and store visitors “see” the effect, but probably don’t realize why the store is so attractive.

This diagram shows how the various elements of an Apple store are arranged to create symmetry and alignment. Click the diagram for a larger view.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Robby Villabona August 30, 2011 at 1709

The Apple logo isn’t symmetrical. I wonder how an obsessive-compulsive designer would feel about that.


Mark Petereit August 31, 2011 at 0608

It’s brilliant marketing, actually. When everything else is aligned and symmetrical, your eye is naturally drawn to the one thing that is not.


Luis Masanti August 31, 2011 at 0803

The next step in the analysis is to find where they used the ‘Golden proportion.’
There was an analysis of the new iCloud logo that shows that the circles are in this proportion.
It should be somewhere in this building!


Aldebaran August 31, 2011 at 0805

And in other news: In an amazing discovery, architects are found to understand geometry! Who knew?!


Peter September 1, 2011 at 0255

Err… Is this really news? How to make proper detailing?


Gary September 1, 2011 at 0329

I tend to think of this as “information that a select group of the population might find useful or interesting.” I do know that this site is visited regularly by architectural and design students, and there are also visitors who are simply “info junkies” who are fascinated by everything that Apple does. That’s the neat thing about the Internet—no matter how narrow the scope of a Web site or information, someone will find it interesting or enjoyable.


MacFan457 September 1, 2011 at 1731

I happen to love these pieces of information. I spent some time looking at one of the other older articles about a document that shows the Apple logo planning and how much it costs (I think it was $10,000 for the back-lit logo).

Why aren’t other companies like Apple?


dave blevins September 2, 2011 at 1111

Your graphic artist used 2 different vanishing points and the tiles in front of the store don’t line up with the tiles inside ! Nor do the tile lines inside follow any perspective either. Obviously your artist is not a graphic designer of any note.


Gary September 3, 2011 at 0133

Actually, of no note. Me.


rk September 6, 2011 at 0707

side walk is sloped away from building for drainage.


jlsmith September 5, 2011 at 0843

The implication of this post seems to be the extraordinary measures that the Apple takes when designing their physical stores. This is fundamentally misleading. This level of attention to detail, (commonly known as ‘detailing’ in the profession), is a basic feature of any design service that is worthy of the name. If your goal is to provide insight to the design process to those not familiar with it, it would seem useful to describe the process correctly.


MacFan457 September 5, 2011 at 0932

Apple is known to have one of the best, if not the best, retail store designs in the world. I am no architect or building design professional, but I do know from what I’ve read that Apple takes extraordinary measures to achieve the specific, and in my opinion unbeatable, retail store design.

“Detailing” may be normal in the profession, but Apple takes it to the next level.


Leonardo September 5, 2011 at 1702

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