Jar Cannabis Company’s Portland Retail Space is Warm and Inviting

Interior designer Tyler Karu uses natural materials that embrace the Victorian-era building’s history

“Jar Cannabis Company has an established brand—in terms of both product and aesthetic—which gave me a solid foundation to build on while tackling their new retail space on Exchange Street in Portland. This is the second store that my team has designed for them. I worked with my senior design, Madi Alspector, to create a spin on the company’s existing branding.

“In the development of the use and functionality of this space, we worked with contractor James Steinberg and architect Travis Nadeau, who were imperative for the execution of the design. We also collaborated with the Jar Cannabis Company team to learn about how their retail spaces work and came up with a functional floor plan that showcases the inventory while also creating a customer-friendly experience. Input from the company’s owners and the team that grows the products was distilled into a concise design ethos that focuses on the client’s attachment to Maine and every-thing the state has to offer.

“To tap into that love of Maine, we chose materials that felt natural and textural, and not too modern or sterile. The brick on the back wall was translated from our design in the company’s South Portland location. To me, brick feels like a natural material in an old-school way. It brings warmth to every building. The brick shown here is from Fireclay Tile out in California, in what the company calls ‘Jar Co. Green,’ which is one of the most significant parts of their color scheme and branding.

“We selected walnut for the millwork because it’s so dimensional; it has a beautifully rich tone and feels refined. To balance that rigidity from the wood, we incorporated a curved, rounded dowel construction in a lot of the millwork. Kyle Kidwell of Kidwell Fabrications designed and built all the display tables. We brought another element of softness into the room with globe pendant lights. Globe lighting in commercial spaces is a nice way to directly light something below while providing a soft ambiance. We selected frosted (rather than transparent) glass to diffuse the light and prevent the harshness often created by Edison bulbs.

“We didn’t want to take this Victorian-era building that had been remodeled for various commercial spaces dozens of times over the years and turn it into a modern, sterilized space. Instead, we focused on embracing warmth and elements from the natural world. A successful commercial space derives from how much a business cares about their product and customer, which is reflected in this collaborative design.”

—Tyler Karu, founder of Tyler Karu Design and Interiors

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