The legalization of marijuana across an ever-increasing number of states in the US, and recently in the whole of Canada, is giving architects and designers a whole new world to sink their teeth into. From the branding and packaging of the products themselves to the interior aesthetics of the distribution centers, cannabis design has come a long way from relying on the cliché image of a pot leaf, now favoring minimal, contemporary, and stylish interiors that communicate the plant’s new identity as a recreational substance free from the negative connotations it once possessed.

A Seven Point staff member looks for a particular cannabis strain inside the dispensary's storage room.

Seven Point, a new dispensary in Chicago’s Oak Park suburb (where the plant is still highly regulated), is a perfect example of the high-end design that’s now gracing cannabis outlets everywhere.

The cannabis-inspired mural behind the main counter at the Seven Point dispensary.
The main check-out counter inside the Seven Point dispensary.

Upon obtaining his marijuana seller’s permit, Brad Zerman, Seven Point’s owner and CEO, saw an opportunity to create an elegant and inviting space for consumers to come and purchase their cannabis. After all, many weed dispensaries are sterile, uninviting spaces, with gun-toting guards manning the doors and an air of secrecy and delinquency about them. Zerman wanted his dispensary to be the antithesis of all that. He wanted a retail space that would be able to give customers a feeling of comfort and relaxation, and a space that would have a boutique-like air about it.

Not long after that, Zerman tapped Curioso, a practice that specializes in hospitality and putting the customer at the front and center of the design, to set about actually bringing the place to life. Curioso co-founder Nina Grondin says of the project: “Our interest in working with the cannabis, or really any industry, stems from our strong belief that hospitality extends beyond hotels, restaurants, and bars. It really applies anywhere where humans reside. We loved the idea of taking on new design challenges, especially those presented by a new industry, delivered through the lens of one of the oldest industries in the world— hospitality.”

The hip entry hall leading to the main Seven Point storefront.

Curioso made a big point to balance Seven Point’s requirements, such as a separation between client and product and a member of staff on-hand at all times to greet customers upon arrival, with decorative flourishes that reflected the beauty of the cannabis plant itself. Subsequently, the dispensary’s concierges are now set against an impressive weed-themed background mural, and all visitors must make their way down a hip hallway lined with translucent polycarbonate sheets and branded signage before getting to the actual store.

The cannabis is kept in customized boxes inspired by cigar humidors, with a storage room protruding out into the waiting and reception area to foster a connection between the activities of the customer and those of the staff — but the shop still meets all regulatory conditions, of course.

The minimalist packaging for the cannabis sold at Chicago's Seven Point dispensary.

Seven Point’s branding was handled by Curioso’s sister company La Tortillería, who named the dispensary in reference to the number of points on a typical marijuana leaf. Both companies took inspiration from famed retailers such as Aesop, whose branding and retail environments are all conceived of holistically to help customers recognize the company at a glance.

So what do you think? Will cannabis’ sleek new face help sway the general public in its favor?