// To get a drink in this new Starbuck store you will need your car
This week in Colorado, Starbucks opened a store unlike any before it. There are no leather chairs or free power outlets. In fact, there’s no space for the customer at all. Starbucks has reimagined the coffee hut as a “modern modular,” LEED-certified drive-thru and walk-up shop. The building was constructed in a factory and delivered from a truck, but its facade is clad in gorgeous old Wyoming snow fencing. As diminutive as the shop may be, its designer wants drivers to pass by and ask “What is that?” only to conclude that, oh, “it’s art.”
The Starbucks that we all know today (a European clone so effective that it’s taken a bite out of Europe’s own coffee market) had to win over America city by city in a strategic land war, so they made their way into strip malls and shopping centers, recognizing coffee as an impulsive convenience purchase to complement a trip to the grocery store or post office. Each regional strategy had to be tailored at the city level, but it always started with a convenience-based link.
Today, coffee’s grown bigger than soft drinks–and it has a two-digit market lead over those fizzy beverages. Premium coffee had become an addictive enough habit that Starbucks didn’t require the sloppy seconds of grocery stores or business complexes anymore. A frappucino alone could be worth a trip. At the same time, the local omnivore movement was taking off. Laptops no longer just browsed the Internet, they created it. Culture became about content creation and original voice. And the very definition of cool had changed. Flannel-clad rejects were out, but geeks of all types were in. Teens were wearing backpacks on two shoulders and caring about the environment.
“Once that connection to our mission statement, our soul if you will, was established, that became the go-forward design foundation for our stores, along with one additional very important element, and that is being locally relevant.”
Their new building paradigm–officially labeled a “pilot program”–is a confluence of all these various impulses. The environment. Localism. Market growth. Low-cost, low-risk expandability. And making it all come together is the responsibility of Anthony Perez, a senior concept design manager who envisioned Starbucks’s original prefab store.
Some might see this store as that last tag-on as lip service, but consider the small, modular locations, consider the LEED certification, consider the power savings of a drive-up business that doesn’t need to feed electricity to laptops all day. Starbucks might not just be designing modern modular locations that are off the normal consumer grid–they could be designing low-footprint stores that eventually go off the grid altogether.
- Graphic Design
- Industrial Design