By now it's clear that high design can arrive in some pretty strange packages — gingerbread houses and dog houses included — so it shouldn't be such a surprise that fast food chains like McDonald's and Burger King are keen to jump aboard the bandwagon, too.
By hiring design firms to revamp their stores, fast food brands refresh their image and get some press, while customers get a pretty place to eat some less-than-pretty food. It's a win-win if you ignore the whole obesity and diabetes thing.
Anyway, here's one example (pictured above): the Starbucks in Fukuoka, Japan, designed by architect Kengo Kuma. Kuma's timbered interiors and glass storefront make the whole place look a bit french-fry-like, which is odd considering it was designed for the worldwide peddler of coffee and free wi-fi. But, metaphors aside, the place has a trendy aesthetic.
↑ Perhaps inspired by the astringent land it was built on, PK Arkitektar designed this KFC in Keflavík, Iceland, to be a minimalist horizontal block punctuated by rows of muted skylights and a wall of glass.
↑ When granddaddy of fast foods McDonald's teamed up with furniture designer Patrick Norguet, it was clear the burger eaters of France were destined to supersize in some snazzy interiors. The designer didn't disappoint with his first commission: The McDonald's in Villefranche-de-Lauragais incorporates Mondrian-style geometry, concrete walls and plywood ceilings.
↑ Burger King commissioned design firm Outofstock to swankify a handful of restaurants in Southeast Asia. Above is the club-like atmosphere of Singapore's Burger King Garden Grill, which features lounge seating, wooden tabletops, cushy-looking ottomans, and walls color-blocked in earth tones.
↑ Ever looking to disguise its corporate roots, Starbucks created a funky shipping-container coffee shop in Tukwila, Wash. The so-called Reclamation Drive-Thru is an attempt to show off a feat of sustainability.
[Related: 11 drinks on Starbucks' secret menu]
↑ Design firm Hufft Projects incorporated textbook midcentury modern features—expansive glass panes and low-slung horizontals included—into the design of this Andy's Frozen Custard, in Springfield, Mo.
↑ This lovely, down-home-style McDonald's sits in a 19th-century Georgian mansion, thanks to a group of hell-raising preservationists who rallied to save the building in the 1980s, when McDonald's bought the property with intentions to tear it all down. In turn, McDonald's restored the place to its 1920s glory, circular veranda, gingerbread milieu, and all.
↑ In Amsterdam, Starbucks crafted a cafe that, uh, drips with an upcycled, Restoration Hardware-esque vibe—complete with wall coverings fashioned from inner tubes and bicycle tires and lots of salvaged oak. It's lovely, for sure, but what's even cooler is knowing that it was once a vault in a historic Dutch bank.
↑ This McDonald's in Melbourne, Australia, was once the United Kingdom Hotel, a Art Deco design conceptualized by James Hastie Wardrop and built in 1937. The curvy balconies, bands of colored brick, and verticality of the facade is enough for the Art Deco Buildings blog to dub it "The Most Beautiful McDonald's in the World."
· All Starbucks coverage [Curbed National]
· All McDonald's coverage [Curbed National]
· Fast Food Giant Burger King Goes Upscale in Southeast Asia [Curbed National]
· Fast Food Restaurant - KFC by PK Arkitektar [Arch Daily via Flavorwire]
· The Most Beautiful McDonald's in the World [Art Deco Buildings]