Design at Starbucks: Brewing the right stuff
David Daniels heads up Starbucks’ America East design teams, overseeing over a hundred designers across New York, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, and Latin America. David and his team have executed over 1,400 major Starbucks renovations and new builds in 2016 alone. As well as being a passionate (and productive) designer, David is also a SketchUp aficionado, so I was thrilled to talk with him about his approach to design and decision-making at Starbucks.
Hello David… Care to introduce yourself and your team to the SketchUp community?
How did your team get going with SketchUp?
The shift to SketchUp kicked off in the Miami studio where one of my senior designers led the effort. Since then, the Miami studio now designs more collaboratively, hosting a design charrette every week where they get together with their computers and a big monitor. They co-author five or six core stores in a day, figuring out the spatial design, palette and flavor, all within SketchUp. In the days where everyone was using different software, it was impossible to do this. After testing the workflow out in this office, we got the entire Latin America studio using SketchUp, and then New York and Dallas shortly after. Over the past year and a half, we’ve been able to roll this out across the four offices I oversee. I’ve found that once my designers learn SketchUp, they genuinely have a lot of fun using it over other software. SketchUp has unlocked latent talent in our up-and-coming designers.
How does this get you closer to the finished product?
Every store is extremely special to our brand and to our customers: it’s their “third place,” a space where people can sit and stay, or shop and learn. We aim to find the sweet spot between being brand-appropriate and being locally relevant so that the store feels right for that neighborhood, or the building that it sits in, or that part of the city.
And because the parameters are different every time, it means that each store has to be unique, right?
Exactly that. Within the stores, we have some simple principles that are really important for us. When we find a building, I think it’s really important to work with the bones of the space. So if the space has brick walls, or some surfaces that are distressed, or it has some great exposed trusses in the roof, then we want to celebrate the envelope, not cover up a bunch of stuff. This shell provides an envelope that hosts the hero of the space: the coffee bar.
Where the bar sits, what it looks and feels like, the sight lines to and from it, how it’s lit, are all very important. We invest a lot of time into ensuring it’s like a finely crafted piece of furniture because it is the grand stage where we create “coffee theatre.”
Your new store at 10 Waverly Place would be a case in point. What’s your favorite bit in this design?
What does the Starbucks design workflow look like?
What’s the one functionality you’re glad SketchUp has?
We noticed that your team uses an impressive selection of materials. Where do you find and curate materials?
Do all teams have a separate materials library? Or do you share your materials between offices?
What keyboard shortcut could you not live without?
Shortcuts are a must for my workflow. Here my favorite and most frequently used custom shortcuts: M = Materials, C = Components, L= Layers.