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Apple's latest SF store showcases chain's new design direction (pictures)

The company's new store, on iconic Union Square, is the first to include a "Genius Grove" and other features from designer Jony Ive and retail chief Angela Ahrendts.

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Josh Miller, Shara Tibken
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1 of 33 Josh Miller/CNET

Apple Store Union Square

On the 15th anniversary of its first-ever retail stores, Apple showed off its newest location, in downtown San Francisco.

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Apple Store Union Square

Apple's newest store is located three blocks from an older San Francisco store. CNET got an early preview with other reporters.

The front of the building has two giant sliding glass doors, which are 42 feet tall.

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3 of 33 Josh Miller/CNET

The forum

A feature for new Apple stores is called the "forum." This includes a gigantic 6K video screen on a wall and seating for people to take photography classes and attend other sessions.

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Retail chief

Angela Ahrendts, Apple's head of retail, joined the company two years ago to overhaul online and in-store retail.

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5 of 33 Josh Miller/CNET

Angela Ahrendts

"This is not just a store," Ahrendts said during a sneak peek for reporters at the store, the first in the world to feature the company's new retail design. "We want people to say, 'Meet me at Apple, did you see what's going on at Apple?'"

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6 of 33 Josh Miller/CNET

Angela Ahrendts

Ahrendts served as CEO of fashion brand Burberry before joining Apple. Here, she states the case for a wall of colorful iPhone cases.

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7 of 33 Josh Miller/CNET

Plaza

The back plaza of Apple's new store will be open to the public 24-7 and will have free Wi-Fi. Any bets on how long it will take for someone to actually move into the park?

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Attention to detail

Wood grain is among the, um, granular details at Apple's flashy new retail outlet.

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9 of 33 Josh Miller/CNET

Grand staircase

Stairway to iHeaven.

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10 of 33 Josh Miller/CNET

Genius Grove

Goodbye, Genius Bar. Hello, Genius Grove. Apple created a new area for tech support in what Ahrendts called "the most beautiful place in the store."

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Genius Grove

"You know how iconic the Genius Bar is all around the world. But the word 'bar' denotes noisy, loud, chaotic," Ahrendts said. That's why the tech support area got a redesign.

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12 of 33 Josh Miller/CNET

Genius Grove

Yes, those are real trees.

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Beats, Bose, and other headphones

Apple showcases third-party accessories in its stores, including many you can't buy anywhere else.

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Glass and steel

New meets old with a view of one of San Francisco's many classically styled buildings.

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Glass staircase

An entrance to SF's famous Union Square can be seen just outside the door and across the street.

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The forum and the Genius Grove

City on the left, country on the right. Take your pick.

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Apple Store Union Square

iPalms in Union Square.

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Apple Store Union Square

No word yet on whether Jony Ive instructed that woman to stand there so her bag would create a composition with the sign in the distance. It's possible.

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The avenue

The first floor of the new Apple Store is what the company calls the "avenue." It's supposed to feel like a small-town square with individual shops. Instead of a bakery, you'll have an Apple Watch section.

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Strolling the avenue

Browsers table-hop.

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Apple bonding

An Apple Store employee chats with Ahrendts during her visit to the store Thursday. A Phantom 4 drone looks on.

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Apple Store Union Square

Happy Applers.

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Bright lights

The ceilings in the new Apple Store feature hundreds of thousands of LEDs covered by cloth to give the room a bright glow.

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Apple Store Union Square

Apple Watches in the foreground, Apple watch cap in the back.

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Apple Store Union Square

Apple hopes levitating gadgets will inspire rising sales.

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Apple Store Union Square

It doesn't take a genius to tell you where to find the laptops.

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Apple Store Union Square

An Apple employee cases the joint.

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Apple Store Union Square

Clever cabinetry.

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Apple Store Union Square

A table of tablets.

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Apple Store Union Square

CNET photog Josh Miller channels Alexander Rodchenko (or maybe László Moholy-Nagy). Not bad, Josh!

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Apple Store Union Square

This staffer's outfit simply kilt 'em. (Sorry, we just couldn't skirt that one.)

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Apple Store Union Square

A glowing wall of gizmos.

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Big box

Apple's store in San Francisco's Union Square opens to the public May 21.

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