Feb 4, 2019


by James Farnell

The Story of Credo

Photo Credit: Caio Freitas

Downtown Credo is a recent client of ours; a not-for-profit business with a small product and a large mission intent on using creativity as a conduit to affect positive change in the community. The name Credo is defined as ‘an idea, or set of beliefs that guides the actions of a person or group’. So what better way to illustrate our focus on storytelling than with a project that’s closely aligned with our own values. Our story of Credo focuses on the power of design to influence the lives of the people we design for … how breakthrough ideas can create a better future.

Many of you probably started your morning with a cup of coffee, but when is the last time you bought a cup and instead of the Barista telling you that you owed $2.30*, you told the Barista how much you were willing to pay?

* ok – $4 if you’re in LA or New York!

Better yet, when’s the last time you bought a cup of coffee and walked away feeling like you impacted your community – or even the world? If you’ve never experienced either of these, then you’ve never been to Credo.

Bucking the trend for ‘frictionless transactions’, we refer to it as ‘positive friction’…where we encourage customers to strike up a conversation over their ‘no menu, no pricing’ approach. Photo Credit: Seth Dunlap

With a ‘name your price’ menu and a brand promise to be a catalyst toward lives of meaning, impact and community, Credo isn’t your typical coffee shop.

In fact, it acts much like a non-profit, making global impact by buying coffee from countries like Guatemala and Nicaragua. In turn, the proceeds Credo makes from its coffee sales – goes toward funding local community projects.

But outside of helping to achieve the Credo mission, this small, friendly, flexible space – located in the heart of Florida Hospitals’ Health Village (in the Administrative building also designed by Little), has created quite the communal buzz.

The highly visible 20’x20′ Cube within a 40×40′ Space. Photo Credit: Mark Steele.

For beyond the Latte and the Mocha Capuccino  – lies an incubator for new businesses and community programs. It’s a place where friendships are fostered. And, best of all, it’s a place where the sick can, for a brief moment, forget they are sick.

You see, since it’s located on the Florida Hospital campus, the space has unexpectedly become a destination where nurses, therapists and physicians take patients to boost their spirits. In fact Marisa Crooks, a speech therapist with Florida Hospital, works primarily with patients who have suffered from strokes.

Before Credo, she would take patients for a stroll outside of their room and maybe let them get a breath of fresh outdoor air. Regardless of where she went, there were remnants of the hospital atmosphere.

Now, Marisa takes her patients to Credo. And as she strolls them through the light filled space and up the elevator to the mezzanine level – immersing her patients in the communal buzz – something changes.

A place to escape, to share and to heal. Photo Credit: @AshleyMaiso on Instagram.

Her patients’ spirits and their demeanor suddenly seem more optimistic. They feel elevated to be away from their troubles and part of something positive.

The Credo space we designed has not only served as a catalyst for bringing people together and impacting lives. The overwhelming success of our AIA award winning concept at Florida Hospital has allowed Credo to expand into additional space on the hospital campus and to open up two additional locations in the Orlando area.

It’s all in the detail. Credo is a simple, flexible and functional response to their needs…allowing customers to write the script. Photo Credit: Mark Steele.

It has exceeded the team’s expectations financially – but beyond this – surprised many by driving healthy customers & entrepreneurial start-ups to the campus that would never have otherwise visited the site.

“The difference is that the College Park location is dark, intimate and filled with hipsters, creatives and what I presume to be vegans. This location is bright, industrial and chic (appeals to the medical professionals who don’t want to sit on a rump-sprung sofa). Definitely a great workspace that is less crowded than its College Park counterpart, with more electrical outlets and a different vibe. Plus there’s the view of the trains passing by which is super cool to watch.” Yelp! Customer

As we increasingly look towards Instagram @downtowncredo #downtowncredo (and other social media channels) for authentic, lifestyle focused imagery of our projects being enjoyed by the community – we also found other insightful sources of customer feedback such as Yelp! – with no shortage of customers excited to share their opinions. Here’s one of my favorites:

“Whereas the College Park location is like grandma’s house (hip grandma who knows old is in and has outlets everywhere for your devices) this location is your Silicon Valley uncle’s house. Sleek, clean, slightly industrial – I was digging the amount of space and light from the two story high windows. This is the place to go if you need a reminder about why this city is so freaking great.” Yelp! Customer

Yelp! & Instagram offer us real-time feedback and allow us to track ongoing use of the space through the eyes & mouths of the customer. Photo Credit: @YelpOrlando @DowntownCredo on Instagram.

In the belief this should not only be a place to go when sick – moreover a part of the community than an alienated outpost of it, Credo conducted a poll of their customers 6-9 months after opening. They discovered that 50% of their customers were non-patients, now coming to meetings and working from the space (many arriving via the nearby light rail transit). Credo has become a destination rather than a stop-over on a campus visit.

Credo’s founder, Ben Hoyer echoed these points in the D&AD Impact awards submission.”Our customers love the space , the quality of the space, the view and natural light from the windows and the communal buzz – all aligned with our mission”. He noted it has helped them grow beyond these 4 walls and been a catalyst to a) incubate new businesses and community programs resulting in them taking additional space upstairs b) given them exposure to a larger audience and opened up opportunities for their business to expand – with 2 other locations/collaborations taking hold since this project opened.

Serving not just coffee, but as an incubator for local start-ups and a catalyst in the community. Photo Credit: Caio Freitas on Instagram.

There are many more angles to this story that can be told from an Architectural point-of-view and which have been recognized through the design awards we have received. However, it’s what Architecture enables people to do or feel that will drive customer loyalty and the future success of our clients. For many, Credo offers an opportunity for patients, visitors and staff to escape the typical environment of a hospital campus – to re-connect with themselves and the community. Its the reason for our emphasis on crafting stories and why our portfolio photography may have an increasingly editorial feel in the future.

Customer Photos on Instagram @DowtownCredo

Thanks to all of our project team in Orlando & Newport Beach. Photography Credits: Mark Steele, Seth Dunlap, Caio Freitas & the hipster fans, customers, patients, visitors and staff of Credo for continuing to tell the Story of Credo!


James Farnell

James is a designer with a passion for problem solving that came from crafting furniture and products in the workshops of England to creating more than 75 brand experiences in over 12 countries. He lives a life informed by his experiences of international cultures and the joy of living by the coast – from the East Coast of Yorkshire, to Australia, Singapore and now in California. Follow James on Twitter @farnelljames

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