By Gregory Han
There may be no industry witnessing as swift and dynamic a transformation as the one happening within cannabis. Legalization across numerous states has sparked companies to reinvent the trade from one covertly shared to now overtly marketed. The change is nowhere more evident than in the packaging, industrial design, and even interior decor associated with cannabis – all increasingly removed from the stoner culture of yore and designed to appeal with the same design language popularized by health and beauty products, craft spirits, and tech brands. We’ve rounded up a selection of designers and brands we identify at the forefront of Cannabis 2.0, each bringing counter culture openly to the counter top.
LA-based cannabis boutique MedMen has established itself as one of the biggest players in cannabis retail, complete with a Manhattan flagship (1 of 18 retail locations) and a 45,000 foot factory in Desert Hot Springs, California. The 800lbs gorilla in the room now can also claim to publish one of the most notable new cannabiz publications – a quarterly magazine created in partnership with Paper magazine focused on pot as pop culture, reflecting a notably different take on “high concept”. Ember is free with any purchase at all MedMen’s retail locations.
When we think of ceramicist Eunbi Choi’s catalog of work the words “cosmic chill” come to mind. Whether it’s her Bake & Wake mug or stash-perfect Cosmic Eggs, each handmade piece reflects an eye for the clever and playful, evoking visions of Arcosanti and Memphis Group.
Higher Standards Heavy Duty Beaker
“A botanical chemist and Jason Markk walk into a bar…” Higher Standards might be what we’d imagine the culmination of such an imagined meeting might produce. Just take a look at their boutique-themed NYC flagship store inside Chelsea Market, a retail design experience representing the industry’s shift toward luxe legitimacy. Modern, monochromatic, and minimal, Higher Standard’s heavy glass kits and care and maintenance accessories offers the same measure of impeccable and thorough care as one might expect amongst sneakerheads dedicated to keeping kicks looking fresh.
Broccoli: A Magazine for Cannabis Lovers
If the aforementioned Ember is aimed as a mainstream publication for everyone, Broccoli seems content to speak primarily to a smaller, creatively-minded demographic oft ill-served by the still traditionally male-focused cannabis industry. Founded by Anja Charbonneau – Kinfolk‘s former creative director – Broccoli purports itself to be a “magazine created by and for women who love cannabis”. But we’d argue with its pages artfully populated with the works of creatives like Aleia Murawski and Stephen Eichhorn, the magazine should prove an irreverent and fashionable detour for everyone, whether before, during, or after any session.
With its palette of Millennial hues and modern typography, Arizona-based Sunday Goods seems to have hit the mark in appealing to casual users – the type with a closet filled with Everlane and who enjoys cannabis with the some relaxed frequency as rosé during Sunday brunches, a vibe further enhanced by their “soil-fed, sun-grown, and certified Sunday ready” motto. Accompanying a selection of their own Arizona-raised cannabis products – ranging from flower, topicals, bath bombs, and pre-rolls – Ben Medansky and Summerland pipes are joined with simply adorned t-shirts and hats to communicate your fine taste in growers.
Dr. Kerklaan Therapeutics
In the excitement of legalization as a recreational option, many forget a large percentage of cannabis is used to alleviate pain. Chiropractor Dr. Andrew Kerklaan’s line of cannabis-infused creams are formulated to ease specific ailments including pain, sleep, PMS symptoms, and skin irritation with a carefully dosed amount of CBD and THC extracts without psychoactive effects. With Sephora-ready packaging and branding evoking Dr. Hauschka Skin Care, this is the sort of product you could discretely leave for anyone curious about cannabis to try as a health measure without bringing any attention to its contents.
The Peak by Puffco
If Tony Stark ever got into the vaporizer business, this is probably what he’d concoct in his lab to enjoy concentrates when relaxing between world saving adventures. Despite its resemblance to a water pipe, The Peak is actually a USB-equipped electronic vaporizer intended to efficiently heat up concentrates like wax, shatter, and crumbles with 4 different settings ranging in 50 degree increments, from 450-600 F. Reviews of early release models are positive, exemplifying the technological innovation of cannabis gear.
SilverStick Leather Dugout
“[Design] is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Steve Jobs’ observation came to mind while considering what we like about the SilverStick, a simple design bordering on sophistication. Pop in a filter, pack the front, light up and enjoy. It’s faster than rolling and easier to clean than a pipe. Nothing fancy, but extremely pleasurable.
Mister Green Life Store
The future of cannabis retail as imagined by Ariel Stark-Benz exists along the furthest western end of LA’s once hipster-now-gentrified Silver Lake as The Mister Green Life Store – a boutique with shelves and tables representing a cultivated taste for nice things. GQ called it “The A.P.C. of Head Shops”, but its way more goofy, graphical, and approachable than its proposed high fashion equivalent. Think The Quiet Life for casual potheads.
The High Road Design Studio
Those visiting the Phoenix, Arizona interior design studio’s Houzz page might not initially connect their name with a body of work representing some of the best in retail dispensary interior design, but designer Megan Stone can undoubtedly take credit for helping guide the cannabis shopping experience toward recognizable legitimacy. Or as Stone puts it, she specializes in “classin’ up the joint“.
Anyone following the portable vaporizer category knows about the perpetual announcement cycle of yet another “revolutionary” device engineered to fine tune the enjoyment of flower. But few are built with the machined detailing and weight of the DaVinci IQ, a small palm sized device that could easily be mistaken for an external drive or digital audio micro-recorder (except for that most herbaceous of scents coming from it). We liked obvious features such as the IQ’s grid of 51 LEDs displaying temperature and battery life, the ceramic zirconia air path, and the curved mouthpiece – but also its smaller details, like the small curved channel angled to direct loose leaf materials directly into its chamber with just a nudge of a finger. A few sharp edges along the bottom could benefit with some chamfering, but otherwise our opinions align with more studied comparisons.
Monk Provisions Drinking Botanicals
If there’s any product we’ve witnessed capable of converting people from preconceived prejudices against cannabis (and its users), it might be LA-based Monk Provisions. The brand has done its homework, packaging their low dosed CBD/THC infused beverages with the inviting glow of a summer fruit cocktail you might see at Whole Foods. The effects are effective yet mild, absent of the jarring and surprising effects of some other edible vehicles of THC-infused products, making them an ideal entry point for new users.