Store Design Showcase: Creating the Starbucks Experience in Asia

From Argentina to Vietnam, Starbucks is in 66 countries around the world – each with different cultures, citizens and customs. How do Starbucks designers create locally relevant stores in such varied locations? Design studio teams answer that question in a special series of reports, beginning with Asia.

Since opening its first store outside of North America in Tokyo in 1996, Starbucks has grown to more than 5,000 stores in the China and Asia Pacific Region across 15 different markets. Over the next five years, the company plans to double its store count to more than 10,000.

"We rely on design to continue making our brand relevant to each customer in every location we support from our design studio," Lucas Torresi said. He is one of three directors who manage design for the 13 markets of Starbucks Greater Asia, and shares some of the team’s newest designs. “We have a fantastic team of talented designers from different backgrounds and nationalities who are continually creating and evolving our store portfolio. I don't know of any other brand that is working on this scale."

Galaxy Mall, Indonesia

Indonesia’s coffee history dates back over more than three centuries. Even coffee’s nickname “java” comes from Indonesia’s Java Island, where Dutch traders cultivated arabica coffee trees as early as the 17th century.

In the port city of Surabaya, on the northern shores of East Java, the renovation of the Starbucks store at the Galaxy Mall brought designers the opportunity to bring coffee to the forefront. It is now the first Starbucks Reserve store in the city of Surabaya, and the second Reserve store in Indonesia.

Weathered blues and greens of locally reclaimed boat wood clad the bar and focal wall, a nod to the city’s seafaring history. The patterned tile floor echoes traditional designs and custom copper pendant lights bring warmth to the space.

Great World City, Singapore

A two-hour flight northwest across the Java Sea is the city-state of Singapore. Here the island nation’s iconic skyscrapers and Colonial-era building rise just off the southernmost tip of the Asian continent.

When the team had the opportunity to expand the Great World City Mall store, their goal was to make the interior bright but warm, and improve on how the space was used. They created a central timber structure that formed the main “vertebrae” of the space. This grand main frame acts as a backdrop for the entire bar and as a decorative backing for the seating area.

SC VivoCity, Vietnam

Another two-hour plane ride north is Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest city. Starbucks opened its first store in Vietnam here in January 2013, and the new SC VivoCity is one of the first stores in the country to be located in a shopping mall.

The design was focus on making this a warm and welcoming place in contrast with the very modern and clean lines of the mall interiors. Designers used natural wood and pivot doors that can be completely open into the corridor, bringing a sense of the outside in.

“The coffee is the inspiration around the design of this space,” Torresi said. “Mercantile-inspired shelves dominate the top of the bar, and coffee botanical artwork climb along the walls, bringing a sense of fun through a unique twist of color in framing the artwork.”

La Consolacion College, Philippines

East across the South China Sea are the Philippine Islands, a market Starbucks first entered 18 years ago, its third outside of North America. Starbucks new store on the campus at Manila’s La Consolacion College is near the capital city’s presidential office, Malacanang Palace.

The store design makes use of the long store frontage and enclosed patio area to create a design that would complement the existing architecture of the building yet allowing a lot of natural lights and visibility into the store. The result uplifts the entire neighborhood façade.

The majority of customers are university students, so the design team created spaces where they could interact together. For art, they created a modern twist to showcase Starbucks coffee passion by printing on scroll-inspired hanging artwork.

About Starbucks Design

With more than 18 in-house design studios around the world, Starbucks is driven by its commitment to environmental sustainability, local relevancy, and bringing bold and innovative design to customers.

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Starbucks Korea teams up with NCT to bring the summer fizz