*notcot in design , 00:20

Tokyo Smoke: Unfortunate 3D Printed Pipe$- 05.01.17


Tokyo Smoke angered the internet this week. Especially the cannabis community - but the design community can’t be too far behind. The gist of it… Tokyo Smoke released two 3D printed pipes (each design available in black porcelain and stainless steel)… priced them from 175 to 13,000 Canadian Dollars (yes, you read that right!)… did a Daily Vice video interview where they managed to insult both cannabis lovers and designers (and the intelligence of people?)… then really dug their heels in as the angry comments began to ravage their facebook, instagram, etc… apparently deleting comments and posts and even blocking users… Then they issued a response on facebook.

It’s no surprise they are already getting comparisons to United, Pepsi, Juicero, etc? But it is sad that so many companies have been so tone deaf to the communities and people they claim to serve and love lately. That being said, I can’t help but hope these are all wake up calls to designers (and companies!) not to forget the humanity behind the “users” and “consumers” they may seldom encounter face to face. It’s also a reminder for us to appreciate the companies and designers that DO put people first, and DO push the boundaries to create incredible products and experiences to elevate us all! (Also, this is a great example of why having good PR is important. Though having a great product and mission should always be key! How you speak about your designs matters!)

But back to the chaos at hand… see what has been unfolding on the next page.

The madness started quickly into the videotokyosmoke7.jpg

First things first - Who is Tokyo Smoke? I used to think they were some coffee shop in Toronto that liked weed, but wasn’t sure how to get into it all… Last fall a they announced this partnership: Aphria Partners With Leading International Consumer Lifestyle Brand Tokyo Smoke: First-ever cannabis licensing deal in Canada between consumer brand and licensed medical cannabis producer. Then earlier this year they raised a $3 million Series A, and announced their acquisition of Seattle based, Van Der Pop. They have two cafes in Toronto, and 6 more on the way.

Tokyo Smoke was founded by father and son duo Alan and Lorne Gertner. There’s an interesting interview with the senior Gertner in Canada Business - Marijuana investor Lorne Gertner on the future of Canada’s pot business: The CEO of Hill and Gertner Capital first got involved in the marijuana industry in 2004 and now presides over upscale pot brand Tokyo Smoke and another fascinating read by the younger Gertner in The Globe and Mail Why I quit my dream job at Google to launch a marijuana business, that begins “One year ago, I was 30 years old, leading a $100-million-plus business as head of an Asia-Pacific-wide sales team for Google, and making more money than I ever imagined. I had lived in New York, San Francisco, Bangkok and Singapore, and travelled to over 50 countries. All this because six years before, I landed my dream job at Google in corporate strategy.” (Humblebrag much?) But strangely enough, this makes the unfortunate statements in the video seem less surprising?

Now for the 3D Printed pipes - IO Water Pipe and the Crater Pipe which were a Tokyo Smoke collaboration with Partisans, an architecture and design studio in Toronto.





Why did they make these? tokyosmoke8.jpg Wow? Even people who don’t smoke, but have walked past a head shop (or watched tv/movies) know that pipes and bongs come in SO many different shapes, sizes, and designs. And I can’t imagine a creative who hasn’t noticed the many stunning glass pipes and bongs that are works of art worth displaying!

As you can see, these are 3D Printed in ceramic and steel. They look like designs that might have been printed by Shapeways (but would cost a bit less), and with all the anger floating about, it wouldn’t be surprising to see 3D files for anyone to print appearing online. Though, if that were to happen, i’d be more surprised that someone took the time to purchase/scan or model one from scratch given the design. People seem as upset about the aesthetic of the pipes as they are about the video. Also, why not glass? Isn’t glass the ideal material to smoke from?


I can’t even make this stuff up… tokyosmoke9.jpg

But absurd, tone deaf language, justifications, and pricing aside… purely from a design perspective… What were they thinking? Why is it better than other pipes and bongs? Is this all a marketing stunt gone wrong? Why did they choose those materials? Why 3D printing? Why those shapes? Why don’t they ever show HOW you smoke it? How do you clean it?

Then came the post on Lift News - Canadian glass community protests maker of $13,000 bong: Tokyo Smoke has announced a futuristic $13,000 bong, but comments made by its owner in the unveiling video have some people fuming.tokyosmoke11.jpg … and here’s another on Alpha Beta Pi - HOW TOKYO SMOKE BURNED THEIR CANNABIS CREDIBILITY TO THE GROUND. And another long read at Weed Porn Daily - Tokyo Smoke’s $13,000 Bong Sparks Controversy in Glass Community.

And then the Tokyo Smoke response on facebook… which makes me even more curious what happened on the original post they deleted! tokyosmoke10.jpg There are thousands of comments across their social media feeds currently… and it seems to keep going…

There’s even a #TokyoJoke hashtag growing… tokyosmoke12.jpg

And PixlGlass made one in glass in 30 min? pixlglass.jpg

And apparently next week they are launching Tokyo Smoke cannabis flowers (called Go, Relax, Relief, and Balance vs traditional strain names) tokyosmoke13.jpg

As for the video…

So, designers, learn the Tokyo Smoke lesson ~ a picture (or object) is worth a thousand words, but how you speak about your designs can change… everything?

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