Starbucks Newest Container Store Features Hand-Painted Local Art

Starbucks designers create stores to enhance the human connection made over a cup of coffee and to be a reflection of the communities they serve

With one hand strategically braced against a metal canvas holding a small cup of white paint and the other gripping a fine brush, artist Japhy Witte makes the letter “e.” He methodically moves his hands to the right to add an “a” then “r” and “t.” Finally, smooth strokes form the perfect “h.”

The word “earth” is a part of a hand-painted sign that reads:

Why did we build this? Starbucks relies on shipping containers for transportation around the world. We also rely on the planet we all share, and we believe in doing things that are good for the earth. This means finding solutions that keep things like old shipping containers out of the waste stream. So we’ve found a way to reuse them to make stores like this. Learn more at

Witte’s canvas is Starbucks newest store location in Seattle made with recycled shipping containers to accentuate the company's sustainable, environmentally conscious beliefs. The local artist who calls himself the “Sign Savant” has created hand-painted signs for some of best-loved businesses in the city. His work at the Starbucks container store in Ballard includes an exquisite, though subtle, street map of the city’s northwest neighborhoods.

"I'm a painter by nature. I was painting houses but wanted to do something more artistic and from there my recessive love of old wall signs came out," said Witte. "I want to give people something real to look at."

Hand-painted signs were a part of America’s culture before printed billboards became the norm in the 1960s. By the 1980s, vinyl lettering made sign-painting rare. Starbucks, which handcrafts its beverages every day, appreciates the craft that goes into the hand-painted art Witte produced.

It took him about two weeks to paint a map and lettering on the accordian surface of the containers. Although he says it wasn't pleasant working in rainy and sometimes freezing Northwest weather conditions, he's pleased with the result.

Starbucks is grateful to be a part of people’s lives where they live, work and play. Because of that unique opportunity, Starbucks designers create stores to enhance the human connection made over a cup of coffee and to be a reflection of the communities they serve.

With more than 18 in-house design studios around the word, designers are driven by Starbucks commitment to environmental sustainability, local relevancy and pushing themselves to bring bold and innovative design to customers.

About Starbucks Design

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification:

As a pioneer in bringing LEED to retail, in partnership with the US Green Building Council, we have a commitment to building all of our company-owned stores to LEED certification by 2015. We now have LEED certified stores in 18 countries and are continuing to work towards this goal.

Local Relevancy:

Starbucks stores are gathering places for the community. By creating spaces that reflect this culture and anticipate the needs of the neighborhood, we are designing for the longevity of our communities and our business. From community tables that foster conversation to using materials that highlight the characteristics of the area or ensuring that the biking community has ease of access, we are re-defining where we meet our customers on the journey of their day.


The evolution of our store design means the commitment to re-imagining the intersection of business and the human experience. As we look towards the next generation of Starbucks customers, we continue to push ourselves to bring provocative and elegant design to our stores around the world. Through the integration of unexpected and sustainable materials like shipping containers and reclaimed fencing or the introduction of unique design-driven experiences like Starbucks coffee workshops and 'slow’ coffee theatre, we are constantly looking for ways to push the boundaries of design.

Photos by: Joe Jacobs

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