Don’t you think the decor looks largely the same when you walk into a Starbucks? It doesn’t matter what state or town you’re in — it all looks just the same.
Unless you walk into one of a handful of stores where the company is reaching out to local artisans to build furniture, such as the new Starbucks at the University of Maryland/Baltimore County, where the Herndon-based Art Woodstone Studio was commissioned to build eight chess tables and two “huge” library tables for its studious customers.
“They’re trying to bring furniture which is made and fabricated by local companies in their region,” Erick tells me. “They want to spend extra money on furniture that’s going to last forever.”
Gabi Philippon, the Starbucks design manager for the region that includes Maryland and Delaware, was the one who discovered them. “They had a more artisict nature, and they aren’t just artistic in what they showed, but very professional.”
Art Woodstone’s work, she says, adds some “regional flair instead of the same cookie-cutter designs that we used to have.”
They have been further commissioned to build furniture for two more Starbucks stores in that area. The only other stores where the company is reaching out to local artists at this point are in Seattle and London, so we can say that our region is part of a growing trend.
“The furniture and materials selected are reused, re-imagined, and repurposed to create an ambience that is unique and special to the neighborhood,” Starbucks Coffee Master and Communications Manager Alisa Martinez wrote to me in an e-mail.
Indeed, Art Woodstone (named for the owners’ artistic bent, and the materials they use in their furniture and sculptures), is extremely eco-conscious, using reclaimed wood whenever possible, and even taking granite from the trash at times to re-use.
Here are some other samples of their work, including a finished chess table.
Art Woodstone can pretty much do anything you want, including restore your grandmother’s arm chair whose leg is wobbly or broken. It’s just the four of them, so when you talk to someone there, you are talking to an owner. I love what Erick told me last fall when I was working on a profile about them for Washington Spaces: “We’ve never missed a deadline. If we say it’s going to be done at this time, we stay and work our butts off until it’s done.”