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A Rotten Apple Experience

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A Rotten Apple



Jeremy Jacinth & José Carrillo Pérez

December 21, 2016

Globalization Space

Professor Keller Easterling

A Rotten Apple Experience

The transparent butt glazed curtain wall delineates exterior from interior. Suspended, as if it were floating, a glowing milky white Apple logo marks the entrance. As you cross the threshold – entering Apples’ crafted world - you discover what has become so ubiquitous and iconic. But what are the non-visible components of this ubiquitous and iconic world? What space does the production of Apple products support? In this paper, we will explore the relationship between Apple’s exportation of its brand, products, and culture, while illuminating the human price we as a society pay to be a part of this trendy lifestyle; the spatial and physical horrors that are created by the labor practices that make possible for those products we have come to love so much to reach our hands.

As you enter the Apple store, you come across the famous walnut tables, custom crafted by Fetzer Woodworking in Salt Lake City, painstakingly arrayed with an echo of fascist uniformity - all the products organized and sparsely displayed, lying flat with product specifications adjacent. The blue shirts of the staff walking around, white lanyards around their necks and iPhone’s in hand, joyfully asking if they can show you some features – more like a giddy friend showing off a new toy than a salesperson. As you move through the store, you find yourself at the “Genius Bar.” Here you can make an appointment to learn how to use software programs, such as Microsoft Word, or have a friendly face try to explain why your computer cannot install Windows.

This scene has become so well known, so ubiquitous, because unlike other global corporate brands, who extend the greatest efforts to adjust to local market conditions, Apple has opted for a singular approach. An approach that aims to disseminate a singular Apple culture across the globe, a culture that bridges national identity and sells a lifestyle packaged in iconic matte white boxes. Apple invented this approach to retail, and with it, has successfully exported its brand throughout the world, branding Apple as a way of life. This way of life is interesting to understand in the context of Appadurai’s “scapes.” Appadurai uses this idea of “scapes” to illuminate the interrelations between the exchanges of ideas and cultures in a globalized context. As a global brand, Apple seeks not to assimilate but to generate a new culture, one that the whole world will buy into. One of the tools is to generate a new “Technoscape,”[1] a way for people around to the world to interact with one another and through the new technology created by Apple. Just think of how much FaceTime has changed the way people around the world talk to each other. This global culture did not start overnight; it had to be built from scratch. It all began on May 19th, 2001, when Apple opened its first retail store and began selling the Apple experience, the lifestyle we should all want to be a part of, the lifestyle we now all want to be a part of.

In the 1990’s Apple struggled to get its products into the hands of potential customers. The prevailing retail model was for electronic companies to sell their products via the now defunct CompUSA or other large box stores. Here, pushy and non-tech-savvy salespeople had very little knowledge about Apple’s unique but expensive products. With Apple’s competitors selling much less expensive products; they found themselves in an environment structurally set against their success. Steve Jobs, Apple’s founder, had created a unique line of products, with a heightened attention to the user experience and design; pulling from his experience in calligraphy to focus on things as seemingly mundane as typography[2]. Apple’s online store was doing well, but if they wanted to reach a broader audience, they needed to expose more people to their products, and the culture he has so powerfully envisioned.

Steve Jobs decided to make a major change, cutting all connections to large box retailers except CompUSA - only under the stipulation that they implement a radical new business model, his very own “store within a store” concept. Jobs set out to build a team to re-think the retail model, bringing in experts from other successful brands such as Mickey Drexler from Gap and Ron Johnson from Target. Ron Johnson is responsible for converting Target into what we know today, partnering with designers to create limited time design lines – such as the famed Michael Grave line – to create an image of good design at affordable prices. This team brought in designers Eight, Inc. to craft the Apple store experience. Working closely with Jobs they designed much of what has become the iconic standard of an Apple store, one of the XXI century beacons of modern tech-savvy society.

The stores strived to reimagine the retail experience. In the words of Eight, Inc, “We wanted to engage users, convey a clear message about the brand, and create a venue with superior visual articulation – so we built an environment designed entirely around the consumer, where service, learning, and products were combined.”[3] Translating this spatially, the stores were arranged into zones of engagement. As you enter, you are given all options immediately via the open floor plan and low furniture and can choose to wonder and discover as you please.

Today, Apple is revamping this model of retail stores. Its newest designed flagships, in both, San Francisco, CA and Hangzhou, China are the first to unveil the newest Apple retail experience – touting it as a Town Square concept according to Angela Ahrendts who runs Apple’s retail operations. [4] Both stores, designed by world renowned Fosters and Partners, who are also designing Apple’s new Cupertino Campus, look like identical clones of one another. Each building boasts an impressive façade of glass, measuring more than 40 feet in height, and a cantilevering mezzanine, floating in the center of the glazed box, flanked by the iconic glass stairs but with subtle variations from the Bohlin Cywinski Jackson original designed stairs built in Apple’s stores up to this point. Below you will find a photo[5] of the store in Hangzhou, China:

500GB SSD:Users:jeremyjacinth:Box Sync:Fall 2016:Globalization:Pecha Kucha:Images:Final Images:Apple Store Clone.jpg

The ceilings offer a consistent milky white glow illuminating


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