They say what goes around, comes around; it’s true in fashion trends, and it’s the reason why antiques continue to thrive in popularity. Castor, the Toronto-based design firm responsible for a host of novel décor products drew some inspiration from the past to develop their first-time cannabis-centric creation with Tokyo Smoke.
“We wanted to design something that looked like your grandmother would own it,” says co-founder, Brian Richer. “Like a candy dish with expired mints in it.” The resulting glass set is a combination of an ashtray, grinder and pipe which assemble into a tidy stack – meaning no searching for your gear before each session. One component’s design goes back even further than your granny’s time; the grinder’s pattern is modelled after that of an ancient millstone; proof that perfection cannot be improved upon.
Finessed functionality aside, the set is also very unassuming – something Richer understood as being important to accomplish. “We feel discretion is still a concern for people smoking, even when it is legal.” He highlights the ‘hiding in plain sight’ aspect of the set – how its unique composition allows the pieces to essentially go unnoticed as paraphernalia while still being pleasing to the eye.
This concept of cheeky secrecy also informed the design of Castor’s other foray into pot products, such as the Voong – a vase that doubles as a bong. While working on a project about compact living for Umbra, Richer and his partner, Kei Ng, crafted “a bong that is a vase…it would take up less space. [And] part of the thinking was discretion again. When your parents come by it has flowers in it, when they leave you can use it as a bong.”
Richer and Ng do seem to have a knack for the ingenious. The duo, who have designed interiors like the Aesop store in Toronto and the Vans’ outpost in Costa Mesa, California, have built a career on taking neglected and disused objects – a hunter’s discarded stool or deadstock lampshades, for example – and breathing new life into them. Over their career, this meditation on second chances has garnered Richer and Ng award-winning attention to detail and a following from fans who crave pieces that are playful yet practical. “Hopefully our products and things we are involved in are considered more than superficial. There is some intellectual or humorous notion behind them,” Richer notes. “We don’t take design too seriously.”
While that may be true, there is certainly much thought that goes into their work, and Castor’s clever takes on cannabis accessory design reveal the potential in the industry. “It’s a lot more liberating in some ways than the lighting/furniture design,” Richer says about conceptualizing cannabis wares. “There are so many designers working in lighting/furniture, that most things have been done.” He alludes to the expanding consumer landscape that legalization will bring – one that could even include the original candy dish owners themselves. “It’s something that also occurred to us while designing it, that seniors will probably take up cannabis because it’s legal,” Richer says of the Heirloom Set’s potential appeal to an older audience. “That may have informed some of the design.”
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Story by Odessa Paloma Parker
Photos by Mark Olsen
Tokyo Smoke does not condone or recommend the illegal consumption of cannabis. For more information, please refer to our disclaimer.