SERRA Dispensary from Wallpaper
Newly installed in the Lombard Building, lined by the cobblestone streets of the Old Town/Chinatown district of Portland, Oregon, you will find SERRA, the most sophisticated cannabis dispensary in the city, if not the country. Interestingly, restored to its former glory, having paid respects to the original 1889 architecture, SERRA distinguishes itself from the 200+ “recreational” retailers throughout this makers’ metropolis by taking a decidedly artistic, rather than artisanal, direction.
Ironically, authenticity, the very integrity required of such a painstaking renovation proves disorienting: because the building offers no telltale green crosses, no green leaves—despite the fact that serra means greenhouse in Italian—that’s the official explanation for their name. Regardless, the facade is painted a shade called “Black Beauty,” and making an even bolder stroke, their sign is blue—SERRA’s signature color is the eternally optimistic shade of Klein Blue.
On that note, bannered across the laser-cut brass inlay of the tile entry, the suitably cheeky and cheerful Quality Drugs celebrates the bygone era of friendly neighborhood apothecaries. It was a vibrant time for cannabis in the United States as well, forty years prior to Prohibition, and this landmarked site provides a footbridge to Portland’s future.
Stepping forward in time, the transformation is stunning: airy, light-infused, the massive space pulls the eye upward and then takes full advantage of its sixteen-foot ceilings by combining two formerly identical storefronts into one long, graceful U-shaped arc. There are several geometric counterpoints at work and play here, most notably Matthew McCormick’s multi-ringed neon installation, which casts a second layer of warm light throughout the space.
Next, SERRA literally and figuratively elevates the experience by positioning a group of freestanding glasshouse-shaped cases at chest level, presenting a curation of up-and-coming lines, whether glass, porcelain, metals or jewelry, as individual collections. The message is unabashedly simple: Look, people: these objects deserve closer inspection, especially provided a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree perspective.
Today, with three stores opened since July 2016, another school of thought is claiming the company was actually named after Richard Serra, revered American minimalist sculptor. Not surprisingly, SERRA’s in-house creative team will neither confirm nor deny such speculation. After all, as they see it, green is in the eye of the beholder; a 21st-century brand philosophy that stands to challenge the cannabis world and the art/design world. Then again, at SERRA, same difference.