Designers Are Tripping Over Themselves to Market Psychedelics

Much like the aesthetic revolution of cannabis, psychedelic substances are undergoing somewhat of a renaissance as research about their medical benefits spreads and decriminalization gains steam.

Glossier flagship in Seattle, anchored by a moss-covered boulder adorned with Willy Wonka–esque mushrooms. Image courtesy of Glossier

Given the all-consuming nature of capitalism, it shouldn’t be surprising that psychedelic substances are suddenly being sold as supplements to increase productivity. 

Once the key to ego-death and countercultural artistic inspiration, psilocybin mushrooms are now a popular add-in to the MUD\WTR brew, pitched to those who prefer microdosing to matcha lattes—and may be a permanent addition should the laws banning them continue to mellow. Which could be soon: Bills to decriminalize psychoactive fungi are sprouting from Oregon to Rhode Island and in cities from Denver to Detroit. Research about their medical benefits on focus and mood are preliminary and mixed. But one salutary effect of the decriminalization movement is a potential reduction in the number of people caged in jails for selling or consuming entheogenic plants, whose uses go back thousands of years.

Another undeniable effect is their popularizing of mushroom consumption, which could transform the hospitality industry: already, entrepreneurs are planning hallucinatory experiences in Oregon, complete with curated playlists and a “yurt-style meditation room.” These getaways-cum-wellness retreats could easily take root in high-end resorts. (Clodagh, take note.) 

NewTerritory’s concept of an inhaler to microdose psychedelics. Image courtesy of NewTerritory

Meanwhile, the design world has embraced the unmistakable stalk-and-dome shape as the new It motif. 1stDibs is selling bouclé mushroom ottomans in the expected olive color, but also in pinks and purples that might erect thoughts around what else shares the silhouette. Glossier sought out fungal inspiration for its Seattle brick-and-mortar return. Designer John Derian and photographer boyfriend Stephen Kent Johnson spent a crisp fall day photographing them in the woods near their Provincetown home recently (Derian also ordered glitter-and-papier-mâché mushroom objects for his shop). Alexander McQueen paid homage to the foraged bounty in its spring 2022 show, while Fashionista found a dozen more ways to get the look. Stella McCartney’s summer 2022 campaign, titled ‘Mushrooms are the Future,’ features Japanese dancer Aoi Yamada in a park with giant mushroom sculptures that recall Alice in Wonderland.

The design fascination extends to ingestion, too: Human Nature, a proposal from the British studio NewTerritory, would allow users to microdose by breathing in four types of biodegradable capsules—Focus, Create, Dream and Relax—through a spacer. Their elegant forms and neutral colorways call to mind sex toys startups like Maude or cannabis brands such as Dosist that are designed to destigmatize previously “illicit” products to the masses. Will they make you more attractive, happier, a better worker? The trip’s only begun. 

Stella McCartney Spring/Summer 2022 campaign
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