By Heidi Peiper/Starbucks Newsroom
Sometimes the piece may be a hidden gem to discover, a landscape taking shape in an airport concourse or a simple line drawing tucked away in an alcove. Other times it’s a show-stopper, like the two-story Siren that floats down an open staircase in Cambodia. Every Starbucks store has a story to tell through its art, including hundreds of one-of-a-kind works of art created by artists from nearby communities.
Lara Behnert leads the Starbucks global art program, working with artists and store design teams around the world.
“When we look for artists, we look for muralists, printmakers, wood carvers – people who work with their hands,” Behnert said. “We love finding emerging artists with a focused perspective and style, who feel in line with how we are – optimistic, thoughtful and full of new ideas. There’s an essence of joy at Starbucks, and we want people to feel that through our collaboration with these artists.”
The bespoke pieces range from street art to traditional watercolor paintings, delicate paper tapestries to hand-forged metalwork. Starbucks was founded in 1971, so Behnert tends to look stylistically for work that feels contemporary to the years since. The commissions tell stories of coffee, community and sometimes Starbucks mythology.
“The mission and values of the company talk about inspiring and nurturing the human spirit one neighborhood at a time,” Behnert said. “Art is a powerful way to bring those ideas to life, and there’s no better way to do that than by creating jobs for artists in the communities we’re part of.”
East Village, New York City
Local community arts group Citizens for the Arts connected Starbucks with artist Misha Tyutyunik for a stunning custom piece for Starbucks new store in Manhattan’s East Village. His vibrant mural flows across three walls, lending an energizing vibe to the new café.
An intricate hand-painted mural by Chilean artist Nicolas Arroyo in a Starbucks store in Santiago is a visual collage that evokes city life. The mural, on a concrete wall 30 feet wide by 13 feet tall, is a focal point in the café.
Phoenix artist Frank Gonzales painted this vivid piece for the Starbucks store at 7th & Camelback Road, which also offers in-store job training to youth in the community. It is a metaphor for all kinds of people coming together over coffee, with a variety of birds, coffee plants, and local flora.
A hand-carved wood mural depicting the journey of coffee hangs above an intimate seating nook in the new Starbucks store at North & Damen in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, which features an interactive Starbucks Reserve coffee bar. It was created through a collaboration between local artist Paul Punke and Seattle artist Jesse LeDoux.
Starbucks has collaborated with Japanese artist Mariko Kobayashi for several years, beginning when she was a student for a special commission in the Meguro, Tokyo store on the first floor of Starbucks Japan’s Support Center. Her latest piece is a hand-sewn coffee cherry tapestry to celebrate Starbucks Ginza Reserve Bar.
Local muralist Kim West painted a vibrant interpretation of a coffee landscape in Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport.
Nevada artist Erik Burke hand painted a terraced coffee farm on the walls of this Starbucks store in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip at the Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s Casino.
Oxon Hill, Maryland
Baltimore mural artists Jessie & Katey hand painted this swirling coffee story at the luxurious MGM National Harbor Casino near their hometown.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The centerpiece of the flagship store in Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh highlights the distinct beauty and characteristics of urban Khmer art. The piece depicts Sovann Maccha from Cambodian folklore, the siren princess with a tail that is transformed into two majestic Naga dragons.
The highlight of the Starbucks store in Hong Kong’s Pacific Place Mall is a dramatic kinetic sculpture that moves slowly in cycles of two hours. Experimental local architecture firm, LEAD, developed this kinetic sculpture which emulates the flow of coffee as it pours into a cup.
Contemporary painter Michael Owen is the creator and lead artist of the Baltimore Love Project, a self-initiated project of 20 love-themed murals spread throughout the city. His piece for the Starbucks store in East Baltimore shares that message with hands spelling the word LOVE juxtaposed against the city’s architecture.
For more art and inspiration, follow the Starbucks Art Program on Instagram.
For more information on this story, contact Heidi Peiper