BEAUTY IN THE FRIDGE

High Design: Alchemy Cannabis Dispensary in Toronto by Studio Paolo Ferrari.

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Studio Paolo Ferrari, Alchemy Cannabis Dispensary Toronto | Yellowtrace

Studio Paolo Ferrari, Alchemy Cannabis Dispensary Toronto | Yellowtrace

Studio Paolo Ferrari, Alchemy Cannabis Dispensary Toronto | Yellowtrace

Studio Paolo Ferrari, Alchemy Cannabis Dispensary Toronto | Yellowtrace

Studio Paolo Ferrari, Alchemy Cannabis Dispensary Toronto | Yellowtrace

Studio Paolo Ferrari, Alchemy Cannabis Dispensary Toronto | Yellowtrace

Alchemy is setting out to transform the future of cannabis with the opening of Canada’s first highly immersive retail store in the heart of downtown Toronto. Designed by Paolo Ferrari, Alchemy’s innovative flagship rejects staid cannabis clichés to deliver a cerebral experience infused with artistry, nature and technology.

The aesthetic is directly informed by the brand’s identity, which celebrates the tension that exists in the world of cannabis. Specifically, that it grows naturally in the earth, but still benefits from the worlds of science and artistry to develop high-quality products. Not dissimilar to this alchemic transformation, the flagship melds high-tech ingenuity with natural materials to create an elevated space that feels much like a design boutique.

“For us, the store is somewhere between a laboratory and temple,” says Ferrari of the apothecary-like space. “It is a serene environment with energetic bursts. It is also about escapism, and experiencing something on a different plane.”

The store was designed around how customers move through and shop the space. Indeed, customers who know what they want in advance can pre-purchase online and take an expedited checkout route inside—which may be preferable during COVID-19, but for those interested in browsing, a delight for the senses awaits in a sequence of unique zones.

Studio Paolo Ferrari, Alchemy Cannabis Dispensary Toronto | Yellowtrace

Studio Paolo Ferrari, Alchemy Cannabis Dispensary Toronto | Yellowtrace

Studio Paolo Ferrari, Alchemy Cannabis Dispensary Toronto | Yellowtrace

The multisensory journey begins in the arrivals area, where customers queue around a lush plant installation that looks as if it were a specimen in a laboratory. Small digital viewers are embedded in the surrounding walls, showing kaleidoscopic visuals and acting as voyeuristic points of discovery for guests to explore while waiting.

Once inside the main space, warm and cool tones blend to calm the senses for a serene retail experience. Soft and strong geometry coexists throughout—for instance, a whitewashed ash table sharply contrasts with utilitarian Corian fixtures and an aluminium ceiling—while neutral plaster walls appear alongside colourful, saturated eco-resin surfaces that reference the Alchemy-branded packaging on display. There are a few key elements of tech ingenuity in this room, such as custom cannabis sniff jars, which give product descriptions on a screen when customers interact with them. In addition, the highly technical self-checkout table is engineered from solid aluminium sheet and outfitted with custom wheels that allow it to glide through the space along an in-floor aluminium track.

Studio Paolo Ferrari, Alchemy Cannabis Dispensary Toronto | Yellowtrace

Studio Paolo Ferrari, Alchemy Cannabis Dispensary Toronto | Yellowtrace

Studio Paolo Ferrari, Alchemy Cannabis Dispensary Toronto | Yellowtrace

When customers step into the accessories room, a cinematic David Lynch-esque aesthetic takes over. This scintillating space has mirrored stainless ceilings, carpeted floors, undulating walls crafted out of vivid orange formed eco-resin, and products displayed against a single back-lit shelf as if they were in a museum. All the accessories can be touched by customers, with no lock and key in sight.

To end their journey, customers enter the checkout area where natural terracotta brick, aluminium walls, terrazzo flooring, and a brightly-lit ceiling evoke a world quite different from the last. Here, large hanging screens display artistic visuals and customers can glimpse their orders being assembled by the back-of-house staff through a small aluminium slot.

“The best retail environments are about celebrating the human experience and presenting highly considered multi-sensory environments,” says Paolo Ferrari. “If a retailer earns the privilege of a consumer stepping out of their online platform and into a physical retail space, that space had better be astounding.” Alchemy’s unconventional flagship presents just that: a highly architectural feast for the senses, with a sublime artistic soul.


[Images courtesy of Studio Paolo Ferrari. Photography by Joel Esposito.]

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