We’ve seen a lot of great cannabis branding lately, from Seth Rogen’s Houseplant packaging to Superette’s The Annex shop, all emerging as attitudes towards cannabis shift in the US. New York-based studio Dark Igloo entered its latest project for psilocybin dispensary Plant under similar conditions, with equally brilliant results. For the dispensary’s new identity and packaging, Dark Igloo wanted to lean into shifting perceptions around psilocybin as a source of healing. “That meant packaging that feels trustworthy and contemporary, rather than overly psychedelic or silly,” Dark Igloo co-founder Dave Franzese tells It’s Nice That.
While the identity aimed to steer clear from full-blown trippiness, it does speak to the sensations you might experience on a psilocybin journey. Namely, the effect of being fascinated and inspired by small details, incorporated alongside some subtle optical illusions. “Plant uses a strain of mushroom called Taj Mahal in their products,” Dave explains, “so we started looking for inspiration, not in the building at its full scale, but in the finer details of its patterns.” The studio used the mushroom’s form as the basis for a “portal” into a vibrant and safe natural world. This portal functions as both Plant’s final logo and an optical illusion in the identity – a combination of a sunset, a doorway and visual exploration of the Taj Mahal mushroom.
Without being too heavy-handed with the visual effects of psilocybin, throughout the brand photography Dark Igloo looked at how colour becomes brighter or “shimmery”; “blissed out, but not overwhelmed,” Dave confirms. With similar references in mind, the colour palette went through an evolution on the project. Originally dark and earthy – “considering that you’d typically find mushrooms on the forest floor or on a rotten log,” says Dave – the palette quickly mutated into something that reflects the optimism of a bright day. “That left us with lots of sky blues and sunny yellow designs, anchored by the colour of the amber glass jar and vials that felt more like bark or soil.”
This organic aesthetic is reflected in the wordmark, which Dark Igloo aimed to make contemporary but not too “sterile-looking,” says Dave. After spotting some of the natural curves in the typeface, the studio customised it further, adding some softer edges in the L and the N to resemble a mushroom stem.
The one instance in which Dark Igloo allows for some more acidic visual notes is through the illustrations for the brand; “These drawings were the chance to counterbalance Plant’s sophisticated and understated packaging design with imagery that felt more fun,” Dave tells us. Featured on Plant products such as its chocolate bar, the illustration is meant to function as a “send off for whoever is eating it” to ease them into a vivid imaginative state. “Like the rest of the project, we wanted the work to feel optimistic and healing, not overly trippy and in-your-face.” Finally, the work is tied together with a wandering frog as an “unofficial” Plant mascot – because “who doesn’t love a frog?” Dave concludes.
GalleryDark Igloo: Plant identity (Copyright © Plant, 2022)
Dark Igloo: Plant (Copyright © Plant, 2022)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.