Original, Functional, Sustainable: Design Lab’s Celebration of Design in Coffee – 25 Magazine: Issue 5

Original, Functional, Sustainable: Design Lab’s Celebration of Design in Coffee – 25 Magazine: Issue 5

PPerhaps more than ever, coffee shops are putting a massive focus on design: the drive to distinguish a specialty café from the “Central Perk/coffeehouse” vibe of the 1990s is largely being achieved by way of brand, architecture, packaging, and signage.

Coffee cups are now lifestyle choices, stores are designed with Instagram in mind, and packaging is being reimagined as a kitchen ornament – something to be shown off and not just thrown in a cupboard.

Design Lab, a platform for showcasing great design in specialty coffee, first debuted at SCAA’s 2016 Expo in Atlanta with a focus on coffee packaging. Since then, it has grown to include drinking vessels and spaces, both educational and retail.

Each submission is carefully evaluated for originality, function, and sustainability by a panel of judges representing Guild leadership and independent designers: Elizabeth Chai, Brian W. Jones, Samantha Veide, Natalie Gulliver, and Gabe Smentek.

For the first time, Design Lab has announced first-place winners for each category, highlighting the best in our industry.

Spaces | Kickapoo Coffee Roasters
Design: Caleb Nicholes (lead), Allison Sandbeck, Jessica Hooper, TJ Semanchin, Brendan Karlstad, Paul Deutsch

Images: Kickapoo Coffee Roasters.

Originally an 80 year-old gas and service station, Kickapoo Coffee Roaster’s 302 South Main Street location in Viroqua, Wisconsin was rebuilt to reflect the company’s core values of excellence, inspiration, service, relationships, and gratitude. In addition to being 100 percent powered by solar energy, the space has repurposed many of the elements of the original building, with new build elements including formaldehyde-free birch plywood and LED lighting. All of the space’s food and brewing waste goes to a local nonprofit supporting a community composting project.

“It was our hope to create a space that would inspire creativity and connection in our small and vibrant community. We wanted our customers to feel elevated in the space, to create places for intimacy, as well as fostering an open social atmosphere.”

Packaging | Elixr Coffee
Design: Mike Smith, Smith and Diction   
Images: Elixr Coffee.

Mike Smith of Smith and Diction was tasked with a tall brief: produce a completely recyclable package design to fit Elixr’s core values – innovation, simplicity, integrity, and ingenuity–while also delivering on their desire for a “simple, always neat, never wrinkled” aesthetic. The final result takes inspiration from Chemex, Elixr’s main mode of manual brewing in their café.

Vessels | Brumi Ceramic Cup
Design: Soma

When creating this product, Soma wanted to fill a gap in the market: a travel-friendly, leak-proof piece that mimics the enjoyment of drinking from a ceramic mug. Made from ceramic and sustainable bamboo, the resulting vessel is durable and works for both hot and cold beverages. As with the rest of Soma’s range, sales of the Brumi Ceramic Cup will include a donation to charity: water, a collection of projects with a mission to bring safe drinking water to those without access.

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