Starbucks Designer Finds Inspiration in Nature for Dot Collection Pieces

When Starbucks designer Rachel Spence moved to Seattle from her native Atlanta nearly two years ago, her friends back home didn’t quite understand.

“I just got this idea by the time I was in art school that I wanted to move across the country and live in Seattle,” Spence said. “I was drawn to a city with a great art community surrounded by natural beauty.”

Now with Starbucks for a year-and-a-half as a designer for packaged coffee, she was inspired by two very different views of nature for her first pieces of Starbucks merchandise for the Dot Collection.

Metallic Flecks

When she was brainstorming ideas for her contributions, Spence came across stunning microscopic image that inspired her “Metallic Flecks” tumbler.

“I like to read science articles. Somehow I came across this photo of an ice sample that researchers pulled by from a glacier,” Spence said. “The microscopic image revealed amazing flecks of minerals and color that I tried to capture with the design.”

From there, Spence worked with decals, pearlized glaze and white gold foil to create the effect of dazzling minerals suspended in ice.

Painted Flowers

For her tumbler, “Painted Flowers,” Spence used paint and brush to create an expressive take on nature.

“Painting for me is meditative,” Spence said. “It’s very freeing to be able to just express myself this way without restrictions.”

Spence painted on cotton drawing paper with acrylic, adjusting the amount of water she used to create textured layers and depth.

“Taking a traditional subject like flowers and rendering them in an abstract way really helped emphasize the form and colors,” Spence said. “The dot that references the Starbucks logo is incorporated as an embossed element – a hidden element of surprise.”

When Spence looks at the entire range of 100 pieces in the Starbucks® Dot Collection, she can see herself come through.

“Part of the reason we have such diversity in the Dot Collection is that we were told to design mugs we’d want to give ourselves,” Spence said. “You can see the designers’ personalities.”

About the Starbucks® Dot Collection

Spence’s work and other pieces from the Starbucks® Dot Collection 2014 are available in participating U.S. Starbucks stores through the holidays. Each store has its own selection and the full collection can be found at, while supplies last.

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