However you choose to blaze it today or any day, at this point, there’s a gadget out there to fit just about any style preference or format. And many of them look like small pieces of art in their own right.
This was something I noticed as I was working on a recent weed gadget buyer’s guide ahead of April 20. What I specifically wanted to look for were pieces, accessories, and other tools that looked as beautiful and appropriate sitting out on a coffee table as a glass of fine wine. When I called in a veritable truckload of weed gadgets to review, design and function were two of my topmost priorities.
Not all of those beautiful gadgets made their way onto our guide—we picked a single device for five primary categories and spoke a little bit more about some of them in a companion video. But whether it was a beautiful gold grinder from Sackville & Co. ($40) that looked like a miniature Guggenheim or a thoughtfully designed Cache Jar ($35) from Tetra, many of the accessories I was sent for review were so beautiful I found I actually wanted them displayed in my home, rather than tucked away somewhere in a cupboard.
The same goes for a couple of porcelain accessories from a Jonathan Adler collection from Higher Standards that I absolutely adore and use frequently as catchalls for things like my papers or lighters. They feel, to be honest, a little more “grown up” than some of the more traditional weed accessories of my youth. Eric Hammond, VP of Greenlane Brands and GM of Higher Standards, told Gizmodo that a touchstone of the brand “is our elevated design ethos which merges both functionality and elegant craftsmanship.” I fully agree with that, particularly where its premium glass smoking devices are concerned.
When I spoke with Monica Khemsurov, co-founder of Tetra, about the company’s design principles, I learned that Khemsurov had a background both in journalism as well as design, most recently as a contributing design editor to T Magazine and the co-founder of Sight Unseen. Khemsurov said Tetra was founded in 2015 between Khemsurov and two other arts journalists, who’ve since left the company, “precisely at the moment when I realized—one day when the three of us were at the beach and the two of them lit up—that the smoking world was almost entirely devoid of a design-driven point of view.”
“At the time, there was no brand or store devoted entirely to aesthetically minded smoking accessories; I had seen the ceramicist Ben Medansky making pipes, which was definitely part of my inspiration, but we were the first to really plant a stake and say, we’re going to be the place to go when you want beautiful and thoughtful smoking accessories,” Khemsurov said. “I had all of these connections to product and furniture designers from my roles at T and Sight Unseen, and so I started reaching out to them to see what they might come up with if they turned their expertise from vases and chairs to these objects, and that was really how we got started.”
Tetra’s shop does, in fact, feel like a very well-curated collection of beautiful trinkets that often break the mold of what smoking devices should even look like. Look no further than its Nomad Pipe ($80) or Elbow Pipe ($70) to see what I mean. Its Tetra Starter Kit ($160) is downright gorgeous. (I haven’t had the chance to review it, but I’ve been considering throwing down for one for myself for months.)
When I asked Sackville & Co. about its aesthetic, I was surprised to learn that some of that beauty is actually informed by a background in fashion, which makes sense when you take a closer look at its wider product lineup. The company sells everything from beautiful gold grinders to crystal pipes to pre-rolled cones in a rainbow of colors.
Lana Van Brunt, co-founder of Sackville & Co., told Gizmodo “the way that we approach cannabis products is the same way that we would approach any other design project, form and function being at the top of the list.” Additionally, Van Brunt believes that design can work double duty to help break perceptions about weed.
“Design plays a huge role in changing people’s perspectives so as cannabis becomes more and more acceptable and people start letting their guard down about having it on display it will naturally beg for more designed options,” Van Brunt said.
Sam Bertain, co-founder of Session, which got a top spot on our buyer’s guide for its hand pipe ($40), seemed to agree that beautifully designed weed products can help shift the stigma around cannabis use.
“Beautiful product design elevates the rituals of getting high to one that is no longer relegated to the shadows, but to a realm that can be celebrated, shown off, or at the very least just recognized as normal,” Bertain told Gizmodo. “On the wave of massive legalization and changing stigmas around smoking pot, companies like Session Goods, which is more of a lifestyle brand than a heady smoke shop peddler, is using the same sentimentalities that designers use to create home goods, fashion accessories, or technology to actually change the way people see, feel, and partake in casual or medical cannabis use.”
I’m inclined to agree. I live in a state where weed has been legal for some time. But I still find that when I have guests over, a beautiful water pipe I have sitting out in my home from Heir ($260) is often a conversation starter for its design. And while I’m certainly not suggesting that everyone needs a designer smoking device—there are plenty of beautiful and affordable accessories that can be found at your local shops or from creators on Etsy—it very much feels like there’s been a significant sea change in cannabis product design. And hey, if that helps destigmatize weed use, I’m all for it.
Bertain, speaking to that point, added that it is “really amazing to see how people’s meanings of what it looks like to be a stoner shift when the visual identity of that lifestyle is more thoughtful, beautiful, and in step with the things people buy for their home or their personal style.”