updated 11:05 pm EDT, Thu June 12, 2014
Latest Tokyo store draws unusual large crowd, features metal-and-glass spiral staircase
Tokyo, Japan's latest Apple Store opened on Friday (local time) in much the same way most other Apple Stores debut -- free commemorative T-shirts, a large lineup of eager buyers waiting to get in (a rarer sight in Japan than in North America), extensive press coverage. The store in Omotesando, however, was a little different: the T-shirts featured a new, leafy Apple logo that may or may not be used again, and Apple's new Senior Vice President of Retail, Dame Angela Ahrendts, was among the attendees.
Ahrendts poses with customers at opening
Ahrendts posted for photos with customers, chatted with employees and generally mingled, according to eyewitnesses. The occasion was the first new retail store opening since she took over the specially-created position, which includes both the online retail presence as well as the stores for the first time under one person.
The Omotesando store is the first new Apple Store in Japan since 2006, and Ahrendts had implied she would be there in her first retail memo to employees, reported on yesterday. Joining her were other Apple executives including Worldwide Apple Retail International sales VP Steve Cano, Retail Real Estate and Development Vice President Bob Bridger, and Online Stores VPs Jennifer Bailey and Bob Kupbens, reported Japanese Mac blog Mac Otakara.
The store is actually two storeys, with the street level being a showroom with a large, metal-and-glass spiral staircase leading down to a below-ground floor where the Genius Bar, accessories and other services are found. Yesterday, Apple released a video of the new store to showcase the design, which features three sides of large glass panes supporting a thin, metal rooftop -- giving the showroom floor very high ceilings and an airy, open presence. The staircase, usually made entirely of glass, may have had its construction altered due to Japan's tendency for earthquakes or to otherwise meet the strong local building codes.
For the Omotesando store, the back wall (made of concrete) has been covered in vines to help naturally reduce the heating of the wall caused by direct sunlight on it. The foliage saves energy that would otherwise be needed to keep the building cool in summer. During the winter, the vines thin out and the wall again absorbs any sunlight, which helps to heat the building.