Toronto designer Paolo Ferrari has created the interiors for Alchemy, a marijuana dispensary that “rejects staid cannabis clichés” with mirrored ceilings and custom-made sniff jars connected to digital display screens.
Located in Downtown Toronto, the shop is the licensed flagship for Canadian-grown cannabis brand Alchemy.
Ferrari designed the retail space to be an immersive and interactive experience that can also cope with Covid-19 restrictions.
Visitors are welcomed into an arrivals area decorated with a tree and a small landscaped garden, framed by scalloped floor tiles and lit from above like “a specimen in a laboratory”.
“For us, the store is somewhere between a laboratory and temple,” said Ferrari. “It is also about escapism, and experiencing something on a different plane.”
Shoppers often have to wait before entering due to social distancing rules, so small screens embedded in the walls of the waiting area display kaleidoscopic visuals to entertain and distract them.
Customers can also pre-order online and pick up their purchases at a fast-tracked checkout.
After queuing, browsers enter the first room, which is filled with Alchemy-branded cannabis products displayed on white Corian shelves against the curving walls.
Colourful freestanding shelving displays, made out of resin dyed bright yellow, project out from slim columns.
A whitewashed ash table sits in the centre of the room beneath a ceiling made of interlocking aluminium squares.
Digital screens set into the desk are connected to a wall lined with bespoke sniff jars – airtight glass containers that trap scents, like a bell cloche over a scented candle. When a customer interacts with a jar, the screen will display the product information.
Next to this room is an antechamber displaying cannabis accessories. Ferrari describes the space as having a “David Lynchian aesthetic” after the distinctive cinematic style of the Twin Peaks director.
Undulating walls made of deep orange resin and a matching carpet are reflected in the mirrored stainless steel ceiling.
“Products are displayed against a single back-lit shelf, as if they were in a museum,” said Ferrari.
The final space in Alchemy is the checkout room, where the customer desk and columns are clad in vertical slim terracotta tiles in natural clay shades.
Similar tiles are laid horizontally to create a backdrop against the far wall, framing an aluminium-lined portal window where customers can observe staff packing orders.
The entire ceiling lights up, bathing the entire room in diffused light, with two yellow lamps casting coloured stripes across the tiles.
Large digital display screens are mounted on the walls and display cannabis-themed art photography.
Sandy-coloured terrazzo floor tiles are inlaid with metal tracks, leading from the other room, that enable a self-checkout table made of aluminium to be rolled along on custom wheels.
Paolo Ferrari is the founder of Toronto-based multidisciplinary practice Studio Paolo Ferrari. His projects include a showroom with a tree-filled glass-walled courtyard in Ottowa and a collection of furniture for Editions.
Canada was the second country in the world to legalise marijuana for recreational use, inspiring local designers to create everything from a minimalist cannabis dispensary to a set of accessories aimed at elderly pot smokers.
Photography is by Joel Esposito.
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