Design High

By Jenny S. Rebholz

Photos by Richard Cadan Photography


Cannabis legalization and its growing use for medicinal and (legal) recreational purposes have resulted in a niche retail market. Megan Stone, owner of The High Road Design Studio, a cannabis retail design and branding firm based in Tempe, Ariz., has seized the opportunity to bring basic consumer science and retail design best practices to cannabis dispensaries.

Stone is fully committed to using design to elevate the cannabis retail experience. And because the product cannot (to date) legally be sold online, the cannabis industry “is a brand new, booming retail segment that relies on physical stores to exist,” she says.

Level Up, a luxury dispensary concept located in Scottsdale, Ariz., aims to change the perception of the cannabis industry.

As the newest state-licensed dispensary in the state, Level Up wanted to elevate the dispensary experience. Stone worked on the branding for the dispensary and positioned it as one would a luxury fashion brand. She drew inspiration from Louis Vuitton, European sports cars and other luxury concepts, steering clear of stereotypical leaf references or color schemes. The goal was to change the impression through branding and deliver the unexpected.

While the typical dispensary aesthetic leans in a more modern, industrial direction, the 3,000-sq.-ft.
Level Up plays with sophistication. Due to its location adjacent to the Scottsdale Airpark, design elements pay tribute to vintage aviation nostalgia. Furniture upholstered in black leather and velvet, stacked stone, crown mouldings and wood-look floors in a herringbone pattern all communicate the desired level of sophistication.

The sense of luxury was balanced with modern details. The main retail space features five 10-ft.-wide product display cases. The high-gloss white laminate, LED-illuminated polished chrome toe kicks and marble tops provide a glistening contrast to the traditional background. The aesthetic delivers a richness and elegance, like that of a high-end residence.

“With projects such as Level Up, we are trying to create an entire language and specific design thinking for cannabis retail,” Stone says. “From retail fixturing and FF&E to consumer education and ways to experience cannabis in your home, our goal is to see the whole industry evolve. This niche market is chock-full of opportunities.”

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