‘Creative class’ consumption and aesthetic branding of the ‘local’ coffee shop

Authors: Kelly Gregg, University of Toronto, Ian Riekes Trivers*, Washington University
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: creative class, local, aesthetics, coffee shops, consumption
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Studio 6, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The ‘local’ coffee shop is considered an informal indicator of creative class populations (Lloyd, 2004). The consumption practices of ‘creative class’ individuals are often associated with specific urban aesthetics, particularly ‘hip’ and ‘local’ (Lloyd, 2004). In this research we probe the aesthetic demarcation of the ‘local’ coffee shop recognizing the inherent cultural value that ‘creative class’ or knowledge based workers place on ‘local’ as a distinct product from the corporately branded and aesthetically uniform coffee establishments.

The ‘local’ coffee shop is in many ways assumed to be representative of the individual ‘local’ identity and its specific creative class consumption practices. From casual observation, however, we surmise that the aesthetics of local coffee shops across the US and Canada present universally identifiable aesthetic cues. We hypothesize these aesthetic cues to be recognizable to creative class consumer and that this aesthetic uniformity becomes an accepted brand in itself – the ‘local’ brand – that is appealing to the ‘creative class’, while simultaneously being removed from ‘local’ geographic demarcation.

To test this hypothesis, we are conducting a two-phased survey process. This presentation will provide the results of the first stage of the research outlining the range and degree of uniformity in aesthetics cues identified. The results underscore a paradox of the delocalization of aesthetic cues for ‘local’ coffee shops that represent creative class tastes.

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