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Tabletops: Goodnight Ginza

Michael Steeber
Michael Steeber
Goodnight Ginza
When viewed through the foggy lens of an early digital camera, 2003 already feels impossibly distant. Maybe that’s why Apple Ginza felt eternally woven into the fabric of Tokyo, unchanging like a century-old department store. Maybe that’s why it feels so strange that it’s gone.
“The big surprise is the 84-seat theater that takes up the entire third floor—it’s a full, tiered, luxury-seating presentation venue, with a giant rear-projection screen and presenter podium. The red-upholstered seats have laminated, curved wood backs and red velvet cushions. They have a stiff feel to them, but are very comfortable. At the back of the theater, the constantly-moving elevators provide an impressive [visual] element.”
—Gary Allen, November 30, 2003
via PC Watch
via PC Watch
There is a brief time during the life cycle of every building when it feels expendable. The design is passé, the interior feels tired, and the space no longer functions as intended. During this window of opportunity, ephemeral architecture like retail stores can be replaced with little consequence. Good riddance to that old thing!
via Apple Linkage
via Apple Linkage
Wait long enough, though, and people get attached. Nostalgia creeps in. The building is witness to enough notable events that it becomes a fixture in the minds and hearts of the people who were there. The design is seen as rare and novel when the rest of the world moves on. Worn floors suddenly have character, and inefficiencies feel charming.
Apple Ginza overstayed its welcome in the best possible way. Pinstripe glass and stainless steel? Now that’s cool. A massive rotating sign on the roof? Can you imagine a time when people *didn’t* know where the Apple Store was?!
(Above: the incredible animated department map at Apple Ginza)
Missing the expendable window is the reason why the Infinite Loop sign still exists but the Icon Garden does not. A huge green “1” is so not Apple, but it can never go away now. That kind of sentimentality doesn’t work for retail stores, where products need to move and leases must be renewed.
There’s a new, temporary Apple Ginza opening down the street during construction at the original store. We’ll take a look at it soon. Just don’t get attached.
Apple Ginza window display via Gary Allen
Apple Ginza window display via Gary Allen
Featured video
Apple Domain NORTHSIDE
Timelapse via Simply Tristan on YouTube.
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Michael Steeber
Michael Steeber @michaelsteeber

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