High on design
Is it time for hippy nostalgia? Or did German bard Helge Schneider have a point when beginning his song “Mörchen” (“little carrots”) with the words: “Do you remember, do you wanna / We used to take marijuana / Then we’d feel queasy and slightly uneasy.” The current European drug report puts it more succinctly: “Cannabis is the illegal drug most often consumed by all age groups. In general, the drug is smoked and in Europe it is commonly mixed with tobacco. The consumption patterns of cannabis range from occasional to regular use and even to dependency.”
Those wanting to smoke weed need the appropriate equipment – and now designers seem to have clocked on to this fact, too. Yet on average, what is on offer is as typologically diverse as it is aesthetically dubious. A quick overview: there are small Rasta pipes made of metal that fit into the palm of your hand, colorful specimens made of modeling clay (parents beware, this is not something to take to play school), outlandish glass pipes and mystical (!) crystal pipes (which purportedly create a connection to spiritual energies). Furthermore, the consumer can make use of bongs (commonly called water pipes), as well as pipes made from bamboo, ebony or rose wood, small knob-shaped pipes made from soapstone and cone-shaped addiction tools that look like oversized wine bottle plugs. In addition, you get peculiarities such as the Dugout pipe, ostensibly friendly little devices for a fast and discrete drag while on the go. The Dugout takes the shape of a fake cigarette, with an added compartment for marijuana or another herb of the consumer’s choice. Smaller than a packet of cigarettes, these items fit into any jacket pocket or handbag.
Evidently, the intoxicant can not only be smoked but also vaporized. As a relevant website states: “Vaporizing on the go calls for certain requirements in terms of design, and these portable vaporizers are perfect for concerts, events and festivals. They are discrete and convenient.” However, the gadgets look like electrical toothbrushes that have been sprayed black (come to think of it, does hash toothpaste exist?).
Meanwhile, medical cannabis vaporizers are at times reminiscent of car tire pumps complete with pressure displays or walkie-talkies that have met with an accident – yet again, these appliances are not simply meant for pleasure, but are medical technology.
So far, so good. But let us move on to some current designer pieces. The “Balance Pipe,” created by New York-based product designer Jamie Wolford and manufactured from borosilicate glass, is available in a range of colors and distinguishes itself from rather more folkloristic examples of its genre through its simple shape. However, there isn’t a whole lot more to say about it. Other little triangular or wedge shaped pipes do not elicit a great deal of enthusiasm either. Or do you want to suck on a ceramic ring that looks like a donut on a diet? When it comes to design in this field, the extent of knobbiness seems boundless.
The cone-shaped rapture inducers of the “Cumulo Collection” are only marginally different. Whether the partial use of 3D printing really does indeed waft the user to higher spheres shall be left to those keen to do so to decide. And we will refrain from making a corny joke about such confused sculptures most likely having been created while high. At least some of these small sculptural dust traps – from a functional point of view they are water pipes – can also be used as vases. This perhaps indicates the real reason behind these objects tending to take a camouflaged form, appearing as trinkets or as a choice of harmless homely accessories (vases, candlesticks or fragrance dispensers).
The reference to the possibility of heightening taste and satisfaction (“maximizing flavor and satisfaction”) is then used to advertise a vaporizer that looks like an outsize wooden crystal, and a techy black contraption resembling a torch is offered for grinding and safekeeping one’s herb – even though of course the illumination will supposedly be coming from quite a different place.
To complete the round-up, we still need to include Sherlock Holmes. It does however remain more than questionable whether the master detective would indeed have reached for Steve Bae’s vaporizer shaped like a slim pipe. For one, what seems to be modeled on an Apple or Billard does not correspond with what Holmes thought a pipe should be (he preferred curved specimen), secondly, he would have found the light ring simulating embers rather laughable, and thirdly his science of deduction would here, too, have inevitably led him from the effects back to the causes. During times of idle waiting, Holmes supposedly consumed not only tobacco but also cocaine and morphine (at the time when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle invented the figure, morphine was freely available from pharmacies, and cocaine had not yet been made illegal), but the author had his hero leave his drug taking ways behind him when it became known that these substances caused addictions. And Holmes was of course able to think logically with or without psychoactive substances.
Which is why in the end – and even design can’t sway us here – we are going to stick with pure Virginia tobacco and Helge Schneider’s recommendation: “Marijuana is no good … Marijuana make you so limp / Gonna give you a brain wimp … Mama put the little carrots instead / You better put the little carrots instead, Mama / Better put the little carrots instead ...” Whether or not Holmes enjoyed eating baby carrots, is not known.