In 1971, Starbucks had just a single narrow storefront in Seattle’s Pike Place Market where partners hand-scooped whole bean coffee and tea. Its wooden bins were chock full of fresh-roasted coffees from mountainsides across the Americas. Back then, customers could explore the tastes of the region with a half-pound paper bag of beans from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru and Brazil.
Although Latin America has been a source of Starbucks coffees for more than 40 years, the company did not operate retail stores in the region until it opened its first café there in Mexico City in 2002. Now Starbucks has 865 stores in 14 Latin American markets, and its store designs reflect the rich heritage of the region’s coffee-producing countries.
“Latin America has been part of Starbucks story from the very beginning,” said Scott Mitchem, director of design for Starbucks Latin America. “Our store designs pay tribute to the region’s heritage and culture by working with local artists and designers.”
When Starbucks was preparing to open its first store in Colombia, Mitchem reached out to independent designer Ana Reza-Hadden, who grew up in the Colombian city of Medellín. Her first assignment was designing custom furniture for the two-story store in the LG Building in Bogota’s neighborhood of Chico Norte. Soon she was helping shape Starbucks design approach for its first stores in Colombia – connecting local designers and artisans with the Starbucks design team.
“Colombia is like 10 countries in one because all the regions are different. On the Caribbean coast, you see colonial homes painted in vibrant tropical colors,” she said. “Up in the temperate climate of Medellín, you see flowers and greens and in the colder savannah of Bogota you are more likely to see earth tones.”
The team found inventive ways to incorporate visual cues from traditional Colombian patterns and textiles into artistic elements while paying homage to Colombia’s coffee heritage. Reza-Hadden and the Starbucks' team worked with local craftsmen to create a custom art screen with elements of traditional Colombian patterns with a gold finish that references the pre-Colombian gold era. This movable screen is a celebration of the strong indigenous culture of Colombia.
“When you take traditional designs and materials and deconstruct them and then combine them with Starbucks design language, there’s an interesting mix that seems to flow together,” she said.
Reza-Hadden's Tips for Design in Your Home
- Make sure to create an atmosphere that reflects the way that you actually live and use your home. It makes no sense to live in a museum that you or your family cannot enjoy.
- Keep it clean, bright and fun.
- Don't follow trends, but instead follow your personal style. Your home should be the place where you feel the most comfortable, so make sure that it is a place that soothes and fits you.
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