Starbucks New Design

Posted by: Damian Joseph on July 29, 2009

Some images are coming out of Starbucks’ new “Not-A-Starbucks” Seattle store. Dubbed 15th Avenue E Coffee and Tea, the shop is an effort to blend with the local neighborhood. It has a rustic look, and the furniture is made from recycled materials, including a community table made out of wood from a ship.

This is what the company says about the newly designed store:

"This coffeehouse design is reminiscent of a European mercantile and draws inspiration from the original Starbucks location opened in Seattle’s Pike Place Market 38 years ago. It’s eclectic and raw, featuring locally sourced and reused materials that are one-of-a-kind.

* Materials sourced from existing Starbucks locations: floor and ceiling are original; bar top and doors were repurposed from the Seattle University Village store prior to its renovation; chairs were sourced from area Starbucks stores and refinished; and chalkboard frames were made using shipping pallets from the Starbucks Support Center in Seattle

* Other reused, recycled and locally sourced elements: wood was repurposed – for example, the community table was made using wood from an old ship and wood cladding was made from a retired barn in the Pacific Northwest; seating was repurposed from a local theater; tables were created using repurposed Belgian marble; and the 20-foot mural was created by a local artist, as was the metalwork"

I asked Brian Collins, who use to run the Brand Integration Group at Ogilvy, an international marketing and p.r. firm, what he thought of the design. This is what he said, word-for-word, unedited:

"This is just what a middle aged brand needs – a good jolt of surprising, un-expected design thinking to get its mojo back.

"The growing millions of picky, coffee-starved customers needed to know what to expect, so Starbucks chose to sacrifice consistency over quality to drive growth. It was probably inevitable. But along the way they gave up what made them so unique in the first place. And their ubiquity made them increasingly commonplace.

"A few weeks ago I went to the very first Starbucks in Seattle. The experience had the feel of a personally crafted, handmade and spontaneously created coffee shop. Their were smart in turning to this history. For too long I think they saw their remarkable legacy as a heavy weight. Now they looked back and realized it was fuel for their engine.

"Or, as T.S. Eliot said:

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

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Reader Comments

Peter Merholz

July 30, 2009 1:58 PM

Sergei Dovgodko

August 4, 2009 1:37 AM

The WSJ reported that Starbucks has embarked on a major Lean initiative led by Toyota Production System gurus.

I wonder what this Lean waste reduction program will do to creativity at Starbucks. Among other things Lean aims at standardizing the way the business is done. It is well suited to the commodity market segments.

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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