The cafe is located in the road to the temple in Dazaifu Tenmangu and for this reason Kengo Kuma has chosen an approach that respected the sacred nature of the place and the sensitivity of passers-by, without compromising the brand identity. To do that Kuma turned once more to the traditional Japanese carpentry (look also at the Café Kureon Toyama , one of his last projects) and chose to use square wooden blocks that intersect across the room and act as both carriers that decorative elements, suggesting the idea of the branches of a tree or a nest.
The structure creates a 3D model that comes from the walls to the ceiling. The blocks of wood from the back of the store through the entire space, until you exit the glass facade, set slightly back from the street to accommodate some outdoor seating.
Inside the store the corridor that joins the front and the back is furnished with a sofa long bench-wall, and numerous tables, all with the simple and basic style that distinguishes the Japanese architect.
There is another reason for the use of wooden beams. Kuma said that “they are recyclable, so the store can be disassembled to be rearranged elsewhere.” The collaboration between Kuma and Starbucks is part of the renewal process of the American brand on Japanese territory. Last year, for example, in Tokyo opened Starbucks B-Side a concept store in the heart of the fashion district of Omotesando, edited by Hiroshi Fujiwara, design guru and godfather of Harajuku subculture, popular in Japan.
Besides the cultural challenge, the brand concept was creatively well articulated, using texture and movement, the core essence of what Starbucks stands for. Certainly, they have understood that a brand identity talks to their corporate culture, business fundamentals and best practices. It leaves an impression which becomes indelibly etched in the minds of their clients, competitors and the public. It tells their story.
Starbucks in Fukuoka Japan – Photos Credits: Kengo Kuma, 2012