New York Wrap: Prada vs. Apple

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by: Alain Thys

In Soho (NY) two icons of contemporary cool can be found at less than 2 minutes walking distance from each other.  As I happened to be in the neighbourhood and had an hour to spare, I decided to visit both.

While I'm a die-hard Prada fan from both a design as a branding perspective, I have to say that in spite of the millions they had world-class architect Rem Koolhaas spend on their flagship, it disappointed.

Not because of the architecture which was at times minimalist, innovative, stunning and perfectly in keeping with the brand's image.  Yet from a retail perspective the shopkeeper in me could only wonder whether this was once again one of those store designs where "image" has prevailed over commercial sense.

I won't go into the details (if you want them, drop me a line), yet at least half a dozen rules of commercial retailing had been broken, while the design would not have suffered from upkeeping them.  By sitting halfway (i.e. not a store, not a museum), opportunities are missed.

The Apple store, in contrast, not only had the allure of a flagship, yet was also the most commercial looking computer store I have ever seen in my life.  Great spacing, good flow & display.  By the book and at the same time very "cool".  The cost per m2 for the fit was probably also only a quarter of it's trendy fashion neighbour.

The takeaway being once again that good retail design stis about building a three dimensional representation of the brand yet based on commercial parameters. 

If you're in New York, this case study is worth the detour.

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