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Ice Cube February 14, 2010

Posted by mmonla in Art and Design.
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I was in New York recently and noticed the new Apple store on Broadway and 67th. Crisp glass box and elegantly high ceilings – not a surprise to anyone who’s ever seen an Apple store before. But while I’ve always been a fan of Apple’s consistent marketing concepts, especially when it comes to their store designs, it begs us to question the relation of branding to architecture.

Given, architectural branding is nothing new. Back in the early 20th century, German architects pioneered the idea of uniting art and industry. Function, yes, but also form, and German industrialists seized on the opportunity to market the origin of the commodities they produced to their buyers. I’m thinking here of Peter Behrens’s AEG turbine hall and Gropius’s Fagus-Werk, which was in fact widely used as publicity. But this is different. Apple’s store design is entirely dictated by a set of aesthetic and spatial requirements. The architecture is Apple. Its design is reliant on the brand and cannot outlive it independently.

The architectural concerns here are not only aesthetic. Located on a prominent corner in New York’s dense Upper East Side, a huge single-purpose glass box isn’t exactly a very sustainable use of land in the days of sprawl and global warming. But I have a solution: a hovering mixed-use box that floats above all such Apple stores. I’ll get back to you on that last one once I refine my design.

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