5 important things that happened in design this week

From the Apple store’s refreshed interior design, to the Science Museum’s interactive new gallery – we round up the important design news from the last seven days.

Apple redesigned its flagship London store

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Apple revealed a new store design this week, transforming its flagship London store into a more “people-centred” space.

The store, designed by Foster + Partners alongside Apple’s in-house team headed up by Jonathan Ive, is now more open-plan, and no longer has its central glass staircase and domineering mezzanine level.

More attention is given to high walls, grand arches, pillars and ancient-inspired materials, such as terrazzo and stone.

The tech giant hopes to inject craft and tradition into the store with its new design, which Rafe Bertram at Foster + Partners says is more reflective of people’s relationship with technology today being fully integrated into their regular lives. “People don’t want to feel like they’re stepping into a machine anymore,” he says.

The shiny new store opens to the public this weekend, on 15 October.

The Science Museum opened an interactive new gallery

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Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery opened at London’s Science Museum this week, and brings together science and art in an eclectic display of interactive installations.

Split into various sections, such as Sound, Light and Space, the colourful assortment of 50 installations tackle different scientific concepts by encouraging visitors to test them out themselves.

The space was designed by architectural practice Muf, with graphics by Objectif and illustrations by Andrew Rae.

Toby Parkin, curator at the museum, says the gallery hopes to “put the A back into STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – subjects”, by bringing together both and demonstrating that they’re not “two separate cultures”.

The new gallery aims to double the annual number of school children visitors from 100,000 to 200,000.

The Northern Design Festival took place

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The Northern Design Festival opened last week, and runs until 16 October, showcasing talks, exhibitions and workshops from designers such as Assemble, Alan Kitching and Noma Bar.

Left on the agenda is exhibition Where do ideas come from?, exploring how finished works by famous designers were created, Rise and Design, a three-hour workshop looking at using and enhancing your creativity, and Take a Seat, a talk by furniture and industrial designer David Irwin.

You can read our review of the Northern Design Festival here.

The Guardian moved into virtual reality

6×9: A virtual experience of solitary confinement - a visual representation of the size of a cell in solitary confinement is seen in the Guardian's foyer in Kings Place, London Participants are invited to sit inside the box and watch a VR experience of solitary confinement whilst listening to stories of those previously incarcerated
6×9: A virtual experience of solitary confinement – a visual representation of the size of a cell in solitary confinement is seen in the Guardian’s foyer in Kings Place, London
Participants are invited to sit inside the box and watch a VR experience of solitary confinement whilst listening to stories of those previously incarcerated

National newspaper Guardian News & Media has ventured into virtual reality, setting up a team which will work across departments including design, editorial and commercial.

The Guardian launched its first VR project earlier this year – 6×9: an immersive look at solitary confinement which places the viewer inside a US prison cell and emphasised the psychological damage which can result from isolation.

The team is yet to reveal what projects it will be working on next, but executive editor Francesca Panetta says that VR will offer an “extra dimension to storytelling” to the Guardian’s journalism.

Sainsbury’s took on design brand Habitat

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Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has taken a step towards selling more designer products, with a new Mini Habitat concession within a London store.

Based in Nine Elms, the concession is the first of its kind and is expected to roll out to four additional stores by 2017.

The 186m2 space includes over 600 products, alongside digital screens and in-store iPads allowing customers to view the full product portfolio of 4,500 items.

The four further stores will launch in Reading, Solihull, Epsom and St Albans.

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