David Daniels remembers the moment he first saw a chandelier made of trombones, trumpets and a French horn suspended in its permanent spot.
Starbucks director of store design had envisioned a showpiece for a soon-to-open store at the intersection of Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans. He’d passed a concept on to local sculptor David Borgerding, checked in during its stages of development and eventually saw the finished work at the artist’s congested studio in New Orleans’ Irish Channel neighborhood. But then, standing at the entryway of the store and gazing over toward the illuminating tangle of vintage musical instruments, Daniels recalled, “That’s when the music started to happen.”
The Starbucks design team’s mission was to create a space that suited the rich heritage of its French Quarter address—a locale familiar to Mardi Gras revelers from near and far. For inspiration, the Starbucks design team dreamed up a vivid story of an apothecary merchant from the early 20th Century who would sell his goods in the front of a store and settle down after hours in the back “living room,” where a 12-foot-long community table rested. That formidable table demanded a chandelier to complement its commanding presence.
In the early 1900s, when the make-believe apothecary was doing business, the near-mythic Buddy Bolden was leading what some consider the first real jazz band and a tyke named Louis Armstrong was getting his first taste of the new sound in his Storyville neighborhood.
“You don’t have to be there for a second to realize that music has a whole lot of relevance around New Orleans,” Daniels remarked, adding that artists have been known to refashion discarded trumpets and clarinets into eye-catching lamps. That was the direction the Starbucks design team wanted to go.
Borgerding, whom Daniels found through a friend of a friend, proved to be the right man to bring a brass-band chandelier to life. He sketched out an assortment of options that ranged from fairly formal to creatively chaotic. The Starbucks design team preferred the latter.
“He had one sketch that was more whimsical, artful and it was also imperfect. Those were some of the things that appealed to us,” said Daniels.
The next step was finding instruments to work with. After searching the Internet and cringing at the prices he encountered, Borgerding checked out a nearby secondhand shop his wife, a New Orleans native, recommended. He found a cache of unplayable, affordable instruments.
Materials in hand, he went to work. Ultimately he spent twice as long on the chandelier as he’d anticipated.
“Different instruments had different metal parts that needed to be soldered,” said Borgerding, “and then the electric wiring was a whole ‘nother thing.”
Daniels was on site when the Starbucks® store at 700 Canal Street opened in November 2013 and witnessed the awe-struck response Borgerding’s “abstract assemblage” received as the first customers entered.
“I've never seen so many people come into a store and pause right at the front door. He’s an amazing artist,” said Daniels.
Borgerding has had a number of opportunities to create similar chandeliers. “I apologize to those people,” he said. “I would never think about doing another one. It’s my special thing that only Starbucks has.”
New Orleans has been a special place for Starbucks since it opened its first store there in 1998. The store on Canal Street reflects an ongoing commitment to New Orleans, with personalized touches such as black-and-white photographs capturing images of Starbucks partners who volunteered to help the community following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
About Starbucks Design
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