I’ve been to a lot of Apple Stores all around the world, and while they follow a familiar pattern you have to say the flagship stores are each quite unique and a glimpse today inside the new generation store in Chicago offers a view into the retailing experience of the future, and a thought as to how Melbourne’s Federation Square store might integrate into the area.

Built on the banks of the Chicago River this is not an existing building with an Apple Store built in, like in many iconic historic buildings around the world.  Apple built this one from scratch using the design cues from the new Apple Park and almost fully integrating it into the existing space.

Surrounded by steps leading down to the riverside walk, the building from the top plaza looks small, but is in fact three stories of space.

Perhaps more interestingly as you walk in from the street level you can look down into the store, through the store to the river and around the area you stand and never see a single retail transaction, or product.

It’s not until you stand on the lower level and look back into the store that you see the Apple products on display.

With open spaces for the Today at Apple educational sessions and a mid-level tiered seating area where owners of new Apple products are taken to unbox and setup their devices, it’s a building made to serve many purposes, not just to sell product.

As it stands, it’s unique in so many ways.  And while not identical, it offers a glimpse into Australia’s first next-generation Apple Store to be built in Melbourne at Federation Square.

You can imagine standing inside that store looking over the Yarra and into Fed Square depending on where you are looking.

Apple sells a lot of products, but they do it in an entirely different way to any other retail experience.

There’s a lot to be said for putting the customer first, and certainly in this store it feels like retail was an afterthough, and the space adds to the local area.

Well worth a look if you’re in Chicago.

Trevor Long travelled to Chicago as a guest of Apple Australia – details of our travel and commercial relationship are available to view here.