Google is launching its first brick-and-mortar retail store on Thursday, and the design of the location is being billed as an "anti-Apple" experience.
The first Google Store, located on the ground floor of the company's New York headquarters, will allow customers to explore and purchase first-party Google hardware like Pixel and Nest devices. It'll also offer repair services and how-to sessions.
However, Ivy Ross, Google's vice president of hardware design, says that the store will offer more than that. "This space is designed to be a physical expression of what Google stands for," Ross told Fast Company.
The store itself takes up a full city block and boasts 5,000 square feet of space. Unlike Apple Stores, which feature a stark minimalist and futuristic design, the Google Store will be outfitted in much more natural aesthetic with wood floors and furniture.
"We wanted the space to continue the design principles that radiate from our product. Our philosophy is that technology must fit into our lives, not stand out. We want this space to feel human because we believe that technology is a tool to amplify our possibilities as humans," Ross said.
According to Fast Company, this results in a space that feels "more like an interactive museum or an exploratorium than a retail store." For example, there are walls featuring every product in the Nest family, with name plates underneath.
Elsewhere, there are furniture areas designed to mimic specific rooms of a house, like a kitchen or children's playroom. "Discovery boxes" feature three-dimensional animations that explain certain aspects of Google products. Three "sandbox" rooms let users try out different Google hardware technologies.
There's also a large installation near the middle of a store allows customers to immerse themselves in a specific Google software feature. When it opens, the feature will focus on Google Translate. Customers can say a phrase and see it in 24 different languages.
The first Google Store was designed in close collaboration with award-winning architect Suchi Reddy. Ross and Reddy have collaborated in the past on an exhibit for the Milan Design Fair.
"Some brands, I think, are having trouble making the leap toward experiential [retail]," Ross says. "The beauty of this brand is that it is inherently experiential. My job was to bring that beauty to life."
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