We learned the details of the Howard Schultz anecdote from executives. The role that Milan had played in Starbucks' evolution would be the main narrative through line for our data visualization.
In tandem, we communicated with architects and local artisans to determine how to integrate a multilayered design into the Roastery’s interior aesthetic. We decided to carve it into the walls, in a brass–engraved visualization that would take visitors on a journey from Starbucks’ Seattle origins to its latest international outpost.
The logistics of designing for an earthen material meant to be engraved, perforated, and polished presented a learning curve that we navigated by working side–by–side with craftspeople, spending plenty of time at manufacturing facilities and the Roastery construction site. To deduce the best way to visualize the narrative, we tested several layering techniques on a small–scale with brass tiles. We assessed the legibility and placement of elements with vinyl mocks hung on the wall where the visualization would appear.
From the beginning, it was clear that even the floor–to–ceiling, wall–to–wall brass canvas couldn’t contain the full story. While we worked on the production of the brass mural, we conceived of an augmented reality experience that would enrich the physical one. Again, the material presented unique challenges. Ordinary image recognition technology wouldn’t work on the back–lit, curved and reflective surface. In collaboration with our partners at Monogrid—a Florence–based digital interactive studio—we determined the positions from which visitors were most likely to aim the app. From these views, we segmented the wall into frames, within which we identified the most compelling visual components to act as markers. Calibrating the size and dimensions of them, we divided the wall into portions to create a seamless 3D tracking of the surface.