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“A beautiful Apple Store, now it’s your turn to clean it up”: How Steve Jobs Sent the Design Team Scrubbing (literally)

Who came up with a bright white floor?

“A beautiful Apple Store, now it’s your turn to clean it up”: How Steve Jobs Sent the Design Team Scrubbing (literally)
David Bernal Raspall

David Bernal Raspall

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Apple Stores are known for their modern, minimalist design, reflecting the aesthetics of Apple products. The stores are designed to be bright, open spaces, with glass facades that let in natural light. Inside, products are displayed on wooden and metal tables, which create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

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Getting to this refined design, however, is something that takes some time. In fact, the first Apple stores were very different from the ones we can visit today. Among all of them, the story of a small store inside a shopping mall near where Steve Jobs lived stands out. One in which Jobs himself had to send the design team to scrub. Literally.

“Whoever designed the store had never cleaned a floor in their life.”

In 2004, Steve Jobs was at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California, to unveil the new 70-square-meter “mini” Apple Store design at the mall. Jobs wanted it to be different from conventional Apple stores and to achieve this he used white back-lit ceilings, stainless steel walls made in Japan and a seamless, shiny white floor made from material used in airplane hangars. His presentation to journalists, however, contains a very curious story.

Steve Jobs in the store.

Before the giant curtain covering the entrance to the store was lifted, Jobs found himself in the middle of a really awkward situation. As Forbes tells us, the designers had not taken into account the harshness of everyday use and the store had hand marks and black stains on the floor. Jobs didn’t even want to go out to greet the reporters and people present at the site, but he had no choice and the reporters were able to visit the new store.

Upon seeing the state of the floor, a reporter present, Connie Guglielmo, asked Jobs if he had been involved in every aspect of the design. He nodded, to which she replied that “it was obvious that whoever designed the store had never cleaned a floor in their life.” Steve Jobs simply stared at her and walked into the store.

That same night, however, there was cleanup. Jobs gathered the entire design team and had them spend the night in the store cleaning the shiny white floor. A few months later, an Apple executive confirmed to the reporter that the company had decided to replace the store floor with the familiar large stone tiles still found in every Apple Store around the world.

The Palo Alto store cleaning incident shows the passion and priority Steve Jobs gave to design. Standards that applied to the company’s products and also to the stores where they were sold. Jobs always strived for excellence in everything he did and, in the case of Apple stores, he wanted the design to be as iconic as the company’s products.

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Apple stores are an integral part of the company’s marketing strategy and have become popular destinations for technology and design enthusiasts. There may be details of these stores that we don’t notice, but they are all meant to convey the company’s image. Something that Steve Jobs had very clear, even when comparing Mac OS X vs Windows Vista, and that we can appreciate in such curious events as when he had to send the design team to scrub.

Some of the links added in the article are part of affiliate campaigns and may represent benefits for Softonic.

David Bernal Raspall

David Bernal Raspall

Architect | Founder of hanaringo.com | Apple Technologies Trainer | Writer at Softonic and iDoo_tech, formerly at Applesfera

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