Apple Stores are always noteworthy because the company appears to spend much more time on their design than most other retail outlets. Despite them always being distinctively Apple Stores, it’s also rare now to find any two that look even roughly the same.
Instead, Apple might work to preserve a building’s original look, as it did with the 144-year-old bank it took over in Birmingham, UK. Or it could build a radically, startlingly new piece of what’s as much art as architecture, as it has with Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands store.
For Vienna’s Apple Karntner Strabe, the first and so far only Apple Store in Austria, the company took a kind of middle ground. While the company has entirely remodelled the interior and kept its exterior, the store was already quite a modern-looking building.
It was owned by the Esprit fashion chain, and the whole area along this pedestrian shopping street still has mostly high-class jewellery and fashion stores.
AppleInsider visited the store during Vienna’s Christmas Markets, when the city is practically overrun with wooden stalls selling hand-crafted goods, chiefly for tourists. There was also the heightened smell everywhere of bratwurst and Gluhwien.
Apple Karntner Strabe was also decorated for Christmas but in a far more subtle way than most of the stores. The only sign of the holidays was an window display that had the outline of a white Apple logo.
Inside the logo was an image of snow at the bottom, and of a wrapping paper bow in the middle. Underneath was written “Wunder werden wahr,” which translates to “Miracles come true.”
Entering the store
One surprise on entering the store is just how big its stone pillars are in the main entrance. The store is on a corner and has seven large windows with wide stone pillars between them, but the widest by far are the two by the entrance.
They’re not quite wide and deep enough to make a vestibule, but you’re conscious that you are taking a couple of steps to get by them and into the main retail area.
Pressed up against the windows are low and wide stone seats, except for a section toward the front of the store. There Apple has placed three very long, brown leather couches.
There is also fourth couch which is much narrower and lies under a wall covered in foliage. That couch includes a Lightning charge point, but it wasn’t used during our visit.
Toward the back of the store and taking up almost the entire width of the space is an enormous screen. It’s used for the store’s Today at Apple sessions, and there were around a dozen of Apple’s cube-shaped wooden seats.
While we were there, on an afternoon in late December 2023, there were 76 customers and 20 staff, spread out over this first floor and a second level.
That second level is where the store holds smaller Today at Apple sessions, and you reach it through a very distinctive staircase. As with the Apple Pacific Center store in Vancouver, the staircase is a minimalist white that looks like marble.
It’s situated at the far end of the store and can easily be missed, but its 27 steps lead up to both the Today at Apple section, and a private repair room.
AppleInsider could only catch glimpses of that repair room beside the stairs and the lift. What we could see much more of were the sales staff — and they could obviously see us.
We got polite smiles, we were always acknowledged, and although we were approached, it was never pushy. It felt like the best of Apple Stores in how no one was ignored, but no one was pressurized either.
The staff on the second level were there to advise on Apple Fitness+, AirTags and Accessories. But it was the iMac that seemed to be everywhere.
Apple Karntner Strabe’s second floor has a large corner window and as you cross over to it to look out across the street outside, it’s here that the stone pillars supporting the structure are particularly noticeable.
Perhaps it was because Vienna was in full Christmas spirit, and there were crowds everywhere, but Apple Karntner Strabe felt like a calm oasis. It was at least as busy as every other store, and it was far from quiet, but it was relaxing.