A famous Apple campaign goes: “Here’s to the crazy ones.” Of course the crazy ones usually get institutionalized. And that’s exactly what has happened to Apple. It seems that in recent weeks, Apple has been or announced plans to be, institutionalized.
Apple, which represents the newest of the new, both aesthetically and technologically, is embracing the old. Here’s what I’m talking about.
The Royal Treatment
Queen Elizabeth II appointed Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design and Steve Job’s “spiritual partner” as a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Yeah, Sir Jony was knighted. Again.
The queen will officially confer the honor with a tap of the sword, which Ive will consider garish, needlessly decorated and far too large.
Apple’s association with the institution of the British Monarchy started when Ive was conferred the lesser title of a Commander of the British Empire in 2005, and when US President Barack Obama gave the queen an iPod in April of 2009. Or maybe it’s when she bought her own in 2005.
Either way, Apple is thoroughly associated now with the institution of the British Monarchy.
Grand Central Apple Store
It’s not just that institutions want to institutionalize Apple. Apple wants to institutionalize itself.
Apple opened this month the world’s largest Apple Store inside the world’s largest train station in America’s largest city. The Grand Central Terminal is a New York institution, built between 1903 and 1913. As a New York institution, it’s up there with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.
Unlike many of the stores inside the terminal building, the Apple Store stands as an homage to the architecture and history of the building. Paul Gunther, President of the Institute of Classical Architecture, wrote that “The new Apple store is cultural memory writ large, resulting in a renewal of artistic appreciation for a place at risk of being taken for granted.”
But Apple’s presence isn’t just about honoring the terminal, but improving and maintaining it. Apple will spend $2.5 million in permanent improvements to the terminal.
The Grand Central Terminal Apple store clearly isn’t just about foot traffic. Apple wants to be associated with, and contribute to the preservation of, cultural institutions.
Apple has a lot of Apple Stores — some 360 at last count. But recently, the company has been working hard and paying through the nose to build Apple Stores inside cultural institutions around the world.
More Grand and Central Stores Coming This Year
According to reports, Apple is planning to open Apple Stores in more famous, historic buildings.
Apple plans to build a big store in a building right in the center of Madrid, Spain, that was built in 1860 but that closed five years ago. The building used to be the famous Hotel Paris and was originally the “Fonde de Paris.” Like Grand Central Terminal, the Hotel Paris building has amazing interior decorations. Famous artists and writers like Manet and Dario once lived in the hotel.
A ginormous electric sign erected in 1946 advertising Tio Pepe sherry is a major Madrid tourist attraction. Although the sign has been removed for construction, it will be returned to its former glory in time for the opening of the Apple Store this year.
In Germany, Apple intends to install a store in a theater built in 1913 in the Kurfürstendamm shopping section of Berlin, according to rumors. The building, which somehow survived the heavy bombing of Berlin in World War II, will be completely renovated by Apple.
We also learned this week that Apple has long been institutionalized in a secret archive at Stanford University, the school where Steve Jobs’ son, Reed Jobs, currently attends.
The university has reportedly been curating a “storehouse of materials Apple had been collecting for a company museum” but that were donated by Apple to Stanford in the late 1990s.
This “storehouse” is the world’s largest collection of Apple historical materials. It filled two moving vans, and now takes up more than 600 feet of shelf space at a climate-controlled storage facility that exists in an undisclosed location in Silicon Valley.
According to an Associated Press report this week, “The collection includes early photos of young Jobs and Wozniak, blueprints for the first Apple computer, user manuals, magazine ads, TV commercials, company t-shirts and drafts of Jobs’ speeches.”
The most interesting fact about this historical collection, besides its size and that it came directly from Apple, is its closed, secret nature. All these artifacts are off-limits, and few even know what’s in there.
So remember December, 2011. That’s the month when Apple got institutionalized.