[Editor’s note: This article has received minor edits on 10 April 2013.]
News has circulated today that Norman Foster’s London-based architecture firm has been hired by Apple to generate revamped Apple Store designs. It is not clear what the full scope of their engagement truly is but the firm is currently working with Apple on its highly debated new headquarters building in Cupertino, California, dubbed the “Spaceship.”
Apple has relied from the very beginning on the branding and design firm Eight Inc., which is a San Francisco-based firm focused on creating branding environments and whose work includes both exhibits, retail, hospitality and education architecture. The firm has also done select residential architecture.
Eight, Inc., was the firm designing Apple’s exhibit booth and presence at Macworld Expo for years. While Eight, Inc., is fully capable of doing architecture much of the architectural experiences at Apple’s famous stores–especially many of its flagship stores–has been orchestrated by the work of architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ). It should also be noted that Steve Jobs’ personal house design for his Palo Alto lot–site of the contested battle over a George Washington Smith Spanish Colonial mansion–was also designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.
An article at Marketing suggest that Foster and Partners are rivals and that perhaps Norman Foster’s firm will be replacing Eight, Inc. for future designs. However, it may be the case that the firm that Foster’s firm is replacing in the Apple Store overall team is Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. With decades long experience working for Apple in defining Apple’s brand in the physical realm–and with such phenomenal results–it seems odd that Foster’s firm would displace Eight, Inc.
Additionally, this news comes after the US Patent and Trademark Office has granted trademarks to the Cupertino company on such things as store design cues like all-glass storefronts and rectangular tables, things that Eight Inc. were likely the responsible for in setting the overall direction in the early stores.