Summer Design Series: Tour Starbucks First Store in Panama
The Isthmus of Panama is a narrow strip of land connecting the continents of North and South America – with the waters of the Atlantic Ocean’s Caribbean Sea on the northern shores and the Pacific Ocean to the south. When the first ship sailed across the isthmus through the Panama Canal a century ago in 1914, it brought together east and west – saving nearly 8,000 miles of sea travel for ships sailing from New York to San Francisco.
Nestled between these two oceans, the area also has a unique microclimate that is ideal for growing high quality coffee with nourishing volcanic soil of its northern highlands and temperate ocean breezes.
As Starbucks opens its doors for the first time in Panama, Starbucks Latin America store designer Denise Rodriguez shares how the country’s geography and history inspired the designs for the country’s first store. Starbucks plans to open 20 stores in the country over the next five years.
“We wanted to give a great first impression for the people of Panama,” said Rodriguez. “Our first store here offers a sense of the country’s history and rich coffee heritage.”
A large topographic map of the country, painted by an artist from the region, highlights the country’s famous canal and Panama’s Volcán Valley coffee-growing region. A second custom mural celebrates botanical images highlighting Panama’s coffee varietals. Framed prints highlight Starbucks coffee journey, from its first location in Seattle’s Pike Place Market to Panama’s coffee farms. The modern and warm interior finishes reflect the colors of Panama.
The open double-height space in the center of the store is brought to life with a steel wire sculpture. The mobile is composed of abstract shapes to mimic elements of coffee plants.
“We filled the store’s open space with something that evokes the origin of coffees,” Rodriguez said. “It’s an active piece that is in motion as the air moves, drawing people in.”