Designing Space For The Cannabis Industry


The future of retail within the recreational cannabis industry is somewhat undiscovered. Any brand that even starts with the word “canna” is immediately transformed into a giant green pot leaf. Does this mean that the branding and, in turn, ethereal moment upon entering any structure named with “canna” in it’s named is ruined?

Designers are meant to help establish a brand standard, to incorporate an aesthetic that’s both functional and recognizable as a space that deserves well-considered design. We elevate and, and in turn, aim to offer a new approach, especially when it comes to sinister clichés.

Along with the legalization of marijuana in California has come the advent of cannabis-targeted professional services. And within those canna-businesses, is a weird canna-entity that has been established, where brands only hire other businesses within the canna-umbrella. As a designer and consultant myself, this is where I want to offer a different perspective; one that takes you outside of said canna-bubble, and details some guidelines to consider when doing so.

So, how to choose the right designer/architect?

First, determine the kind of establishment your business is. Is it hospitality-focused? Is it service-oriented? Is it more clinical? Do you want surface-level design or something more structural? Consider designers who understand the aesthetic you want to achieve and then ensure that that aesthetic fits into their background (this will only be more beneficial to you in the long run). If it’s a headquarters design versus a head shop, it’s important to select someone familiar with workplace ergonomic options or; something that’s more functional for hosting meetings, impressing clients, and winning over investors.

Personally curious myself, cannabis design for the home also opens up a new way to explore having a relaxing space that’s secure and filtered from children and pets. There’s a world out there that’s yet to be discovered in design, and we’ve only seen it’s surface.

Living in Los Angeles, there are strict codes and building standards that have been established within alcohol, restaurant, and coffee businesses for some time. I, for one, am no expert in any of those industries, however I don’t have to be to incorporate tasteful, inspired design into a space whose creative inclination probably won’t have much to do with the product offered anyway.  

So why, then, are designers and architects not jumping at the opportunity to explore this space within cannabis? Is there a reason it’s not being published and featured in design publications/ online design platforms? As a designer, we don’t go into a space with a pre-conceived notion of what it should be based on the product. So let’s not allow missed interpretations of cannabis to affect that creative process. Let’s not miss an opportunity to capture a different sector of an industry that’s burgeoning quickly. Let’s forget about everyone else, and focus on the space, the feeling you get when you walk inside of it, and a design appreciation that fuels the love for our careers in the first place.

Full print interview in UNDO MAG: Issue 7 

Writer: Melanie Ryan
Photographer: Melanie Ryan

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