Architecture, Projects, Projects highlight
Leave a comment

Apple Store Piazza Liberty in Milan: seen for you

The piazza-amphitheater, where kids play. The entrance like a glass cave, surrounded by water. The staff: all young, smiling and competent (but when you find them even in the restrooms the effect is a bit Black Mirror). Apple’s first Italian flagship store, in Piazza Liberty in Milan (opening July 26): seen for you.

The opening of the Apple Store Piazza Liberty (designed and developed in 4 years, under construction for one, opens to the public on Thursday 26) has created passion and division in Milan. The Milanese equivalent of the launch of a new iPhone. Or the digital version of palm trees in Piazza del Duomo. Something, in short, on which everyone necessarily has an opinion and feels obliged – especially on social media – to take a position.

The whole city talks about it: for or against

For months, and especially in recent weeks, with the distribution of renderings and the go-no-go about the opening date, the city has divided. Among those who were looking forward to stand in line to enter the glass structure and those who commented “yeah, Norman Foster, as in young design”. Among those who scanned the list of 21 creatives who were asked to contribute to the installation What will you do Tomorrow Milan saying “I know him/her”. And the ones who, grumbling, wondered why they were not chosen. Among those already enrolled in today @ Apple’s concerts and free entry events and those who complain “give us back the Apollo cinema”.

What most striking is the urban project

The coming out is therefore a must. I love the Apple Store Piazza Liberty. I especially like it in its role as a public space, as an urban project. I like the fact that it is announced from afar by a waterfall. (“A reference to the iconography of Italian squares”, explained Stefan Behling of Norman Foster & Partners who signed the project with Jonathan Ive, Apple’s head designer). And I like the fact that anyone can sit on the steps of the amphitheater that leads to the basement of the store (“made, like everything, in local stone, a beola,” said Behling).

A project that was built on water and light

And I obviously like the entrance at street level, the one that opens on the small side of the glass parallelepiped. On which 56 jets project the water to a height of 8 meters making it fall to the sides and creating a “cave effect” that will surely become the trademark of the Apple Store Piazza Liberty. The light effects are also fascinating. Because the stairs were cut in such a way as to make the sun’s rays fall like blades along the whole wall. And the workmanship of stones gives out a commitment to details: like that of the air intakes (empty spaces on the sides of the store and tiles artfully drilled on the floor) or cuts (horizontal on the floor and vertical on the walls).

And the store is… well, an Apple store

The magic fades when you reach the basement floor (illuminated by sunlight thanks to the ceiling openings). Because the Apple Store Piazza Liberty is … an Apple Store. With a large Vidiwall and a forum – for events, lectures and workshops open to the public. With screens that, like shop windows, tell the products. Beautiful trees that line the walls and ceilings, cut to let in the light. With tables (“the same ones on which Jonathan Ive designs smartphones”, revealed Behling) full of iPhone, iPad and the like. But also with the ranks of guys who teach how to use them (there will be courses in coding, creative photography, music editing and much more, in rotation, all free).

All is designed. Also behaviours

The atmosphere is definitely cool. But you can not help but notice that it is that kind of “designed” cool, in which everything is ok as long as it goes you stay within the story that was prepared for you. A bit ‘Black Mirror. Where the workers – always with a smile – look at you incessantly, even guarding the entrance to the toilet (in pairs). Where questions unrelated to products are not welcome. To such extent that it is not possible to ask for clarification after a press conference to those who held it. Managing it with big smiles but transforming it, in the form, in a monologue. “No questions, no interviews” does not make a good impression. But were not we all for sharing, dialogue, transparency? That was odd.

A great calendar of events

Never mind. With Apple, we know, it’s take it or leave it. And certainly Cupertino is doing a good job of trying to fascinate Milan and its creative people. It chose 21 – photographers, digital artists, illustrators, designers, stylists, musicians – to create the opera “What will you do tomorrow Milan” (you will see it on the Vidiwall in the store). And they will transfer their project knowledge to those who will participate in free workshops in the coming months. While the amphitheater, ie a space that was public on the ground floor will host events open to all. “It will be used in sharing with the City,” we were told by one of the ladies present even if the explanations on the terms of this sharing were not given.

A meeting point more than just a store

But we are confident. For sure the Apple Store Piazza Liberty will become a meeting place for many Milanese and it will not be just another store. Without doubt the amphitheater will attract people of all kinds, allowing the use of a place that has been public. (Already, as the store is still closed, it was full: and it was great to see the children who benefit from the splashes of water). Because, as we were told at the press conference, this first Italian flagship is the symbol in the new way of conceiving the stores according to Apple. «As squares, meeting places open to everyone, where to spend time, learn and exchange ideas and opinions». Exactly ….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *