State economies, local growers, and stoners aren’t the only ones getting a boost from the recent legalization of marijuana in a handful of places across the U.S. Retail and design companies also seem to be hopping on board the “Mary Jane” train. As dispensaries have increasingly begun treating their products like delicacies that require a lot of background knowledge to sell and enjoy properly, they’ve also started to develop some classier commercial faces for their businesses. While all of this has been undertaken to distance society from the idea that smoking cannabis is a bad thing, it’s also created friendly and relaxed environments that first-time shoppers can quickly feel at ease in. Serra, a self-proclaimed “modern druggist” in Portland, Oregon, is one such place.
Located in the heart of Portland’s historic old town, Serra was specifically designed to have a strong link to the city’s cultural atmosphere and contribute to the resurgence of the surrounding area. Branding gurus OMGFCo were put in charge of crafting the company’s identity, taking a name from the Italian word for “greenhouse” and giving the dispensary a voice and character unlike any other. With taglines like “Feel all the Feelings” and “Quality Drugs,” Serra comes across as familiar, sensitive, and trustworthy. These qualities are similarly reflected by the shop’s physical design.
In the process of creating a physical space for Serra to operate out of, principal designers JHL Design completely restored an old building from the 1880s, giving the entire structure a much-needed update and bringing it into the 21st century. The resulting aesthetic is pared back and minimal. The dispensary’s facade was painted a color called “Black Beauty” because the company wanted to be careful not to outwardly allude to the sale of marijuana. Subsequently, you won’t find any green or references to pot leaves anywhere in this design.
Upon entering the building, customers are greeted by a reception area and ID’d to verify that they are above the age of 21. Afterward, they can enter the store’s main room, which is where the marijuana is actually sold. Equipment and paraphernalia including pipes, bongs, edibles, and oils are displayed in glass cases that resemble tiny greenhouses, connecting the merchandise to the store’s name. Serra partners with local craftsmen, chocolatiers, and growers to ensure that only the finest-quality products are sold in their shop. A Portland-based sculptor even produced the modern light fixtures that hang down from the store’s 16-foot high ceiling. The company is a firm believer in “the art of smoking” and aims to help its customers incorporate cannabis consumption into their daily lives.
Serra is raising the bar for marijuana dispensaries everywhere by creating an experience beyond that of simply going to a pharmacy. The shop’s minimalist design is intoxicating even before you smoke or consume anything. While the team says that staying on top of pot’s legal status is one of the most challenging parts of their enterprise, their innovative branding and design is sure to help them weather whatever storm might come their way.