Inside the redesigned Apple Store on Regent Street

The new "grand hall" is pretty impressive.

Soon, Apple's store on Regent Street, London, will re-open to the public. The gadget mecca has been given a radical makeover, retiring the old glass staircase and much of the first floor. In their place you'll find a double height "grand hall" which stretches seven meters above you. Twelve trees have been added to the ground floor, as well as some circular sofas (made from Rolls-Royce leather), and two staircases made from a pale Castagna stone. Climbing these will take you to a smaller space upstairs, where Apple's new "Creative Pros" can teach you about specialised software.

The same design concept was rolled out in the US earlier this year. Regent Street is the first location in Europe to receive the new treatment, however. It was put together by Foster+Partners, the same architecture firm working on Apple's new spaceship campus in Cupertino. It feels pretty spacious, although I suspect that feeling will disappear when hundreds of customers are battling for an Apple Genius. The store also has a fresh, earthy look. In addition to the new trees, Apple has added some wall panels covered in foliage. The tall glass windows still reside at the front of the shop too, meaning there's plenty of natural light pouring onto the demo units.

Before its public opening this Saturday (October 15th), Apple invited us to take a look around. The new design contains few surprises -- it's very consistent with Apple's longstanding design ethos -- but does highlight the company's relentless push to improve its retail presence. Google, take note.