How Futura Created this Coffee Shop’s Eco-Friendly, Memorable Design

One stop that absolutely needs to be on your list when you visit Mexico City: Blend Station. The design for Blend Station is immediately eye-catching, with recognizable icons, fun patterns, and a refreshing color palette. We spoke with Iván García, the co-founder of Futura who led the design, to learn more about sustainability and recyclable materials, how mistakes can lead to effective design, and the importance of consulting others during your process.

Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

Futura: It was a far reaching process, starting with a generic name already registered by the client, inspirational, yet not that simple, and it gave us the chance to get our ideas from everywhere. Cafeterias are probably one of the most popular businesses during the last decade, filled with references—how could we do something different?

We parted from something pretty basic: coffee wakes you up, it brings new ideas. We mixed that feeling with illustrations eluding that everything could happen and limits don’t exist, where mountains talk or birds sit down to discuss with a cup of coffee, Blend Station is all that.

What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with Blend Station packaging and how did you accomplish it?

Futura: Blend Station is located in one of the most popular neighborhoods in Mexico City. This place is filled with modern cafeterias all similar between them: cozy places filled with vintage wood, light bulbs, mason jars and kraft packaging. Our main goal was to create something different from the rest, one step ahead.

What was the most challenging part of this project?

Futura: We know that as a designers we hold a huge ecological responsibility towards our planet, global warming is real such as the appeal of an interesting packaging and the benefits of having a strong branding. We researched about recycled materials around the world and we found out Mexico doesn’t have the technology nor the culture of recycling. Under these circumstances we worked with materials that could easily be recycled in our country such as plastic and paper.

With this in mind we designed an appealing experience by creating an attractive space with ceramic containers where clients could be more conscious about disposable and recycled stationery. Blend Station is very much focused on the experience of drinking coffee.

How did you go about incorporating all of these details into the design?

Futura: Design must add peculiar attributes to the brand, something you don’t have at home. Most people have an access to a cafeteria as they can prepare a hamburger at home, but still there are millions of people buying themselves a happy meal. This makes us wonder which peculiarity could be provided to the visitor that they don’t have at home. Although there’s a team of experts choosing each coffee bean and looking for the best way to toast it, the experience improves when you think about the packaging, space, etc., and in the end the final question should remain: what are we doing for people to smile and believe they’re a better being by consuming our coffee?

How can other designers learn from your work and approach their own work to give consumers experiences?

Futura: Design is intuitive. You have to rely on your criteria so you can stay true to it. If a glass is being heated 90 degrees it has to resist its temperature, if a chair is designed you have to be comfortable on it for about 2 or 3 hours, there’s no need to be apprehensive with ideas, we’ll have them all our life, there’s no reason to be foolish if it does not work out.

If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

Futura: I’ve learned by making mistakes. At first we abused minimalism while creating the packaging, and people took it away without knowing what the space was called. We learned that an icon can be more than just a graphic on a card or a glass, and in this case our mural is the icon. People remember it and take pictures, so what I’m most proud of is having made mistakes and being able to fixed them and apply this knowledge into new projects.

Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.

Futura: It is impossible to know it all, but it is possible to surround yourself with experts who help develop ideas. Surrounding yourself with talented people is better—it reduces mistakes and setbacks.