Reading: Seeing Green
WITH A SUCCESSFUL ROUND OF SERIES-B FUNDING, IT’S APPARENT THAT TOKYO SMOKE HAS MORE THAN JUST THE DESIGN BUFFS BUZZED
With Canada puff-puff passing its way toward marijuana legalization, it might not be too long until you’re buying the stuff at the LCBO instead of in your friend’s parent’s basement. But while class-cutting teenaged stoners might be happy with Cheech and Chong-inspired head shops, Ontario’s altering state is an opportunity to disrupt an industry – and culture – that has long been stigmatized.
To say that Tokyo Smoke is rebranding cannabis doesn’t do the company’s mission justice. Retail locations are a destination for designers, and the design-inclined, to get their fix of artisanal coffee, sophisticated smoking accessories and free wi-fi; in other words, a winning trifecta for inspiring great ideas. Shelves are lined with crystal gemstone pipes that could easily pass for room décor at the nearby Anthropologie. Grab a chair and leaf through “hi”, the brands nuanced print magazine or draw inspiration from a series of artist collaborations, including artwork by Dahae Song. Housing the whole project in a coffee shop helps Tokyo Smoke not only normalize cannabis, but cultivate a strong sense of community.
Lifestyle marketing in luxury goods is nothing new, it sells everything from coffee to cars. However, the owner’s clout (Alan Gertner is an ex-Google executive, his father and business partner is a serial investor) gives Tokyo Smoke a noteworthy advantage in the race to transform hotboxing to haute-boxing. Not only has the company received financial backing from the likes of Dragon’s Den alum W. Brett Wilson, but has also closed a ground-breaking deal with the leading licensed producer of medical cannabis, Aphria.
However, until the government gives the green light to sell cannabis recreationally, Tokyo Smoke is dedicated to selling the most addictive drug: an immaculately curated experience.
BERKELEY POOLE, CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF TOKYO SMOKE.
“Design has become such an important part of everyone’s lives. Tokyo Smoke operates adjacent to that. We understand that people are really tapped in culturally and visually. The brand is very design focused because that’s where people’s tastes are.”
MARY JANE’S MAKEOVER
“Tokyo Smoke is developing a new narrative or new visual language within weed as opposed to totally rebranding it as an industry. There is already a great and interesting culture and history to cannabis, but we are certainly developing our own voice in the space.”
ON SELECTING ARTISTS
“I think most of the time it’s an intangible quality.”
“If a magazine is fully digital I don’t know if people engage with it in the same way. I think when you are leafing through a print magazine it forces you to take a moment and immerse yourself in the material. ”
LEADING THE CONVERSATION
“I think we are rearticulating cannabis in a way that feels way more evocative and experiential. Those are the two main things I’m always aiming to explore with the brand.”
Journey Pipe in rose gold.
Grinder Card ($15) by Tokyo Smoke; candle ($60) by Tokyo Smoke x Brennan Michael; bong ($225) by Summerland; tray ($89) by Marley Natural; gemstone pipe ($160) by Tokyo Smoke.
All available at tokyosmoke.com