We chat with Ariel Zimman, founder of design-centric smoking wares company Stonedware, on what led her to the cannabis industry, her smoking ritual, and her thoughts on the industry and where it’s headed.
Ariel Zimman, the artist and designer behind design-centric smoking wares company Stonedware, had been creating beautiful home decor pieces under her brand RELM STUDIOS when she had a little bit of a lightbulb moment: with all of these beautiful pieces we put on display in our home – how had we somehow overlooked cannabis paraphernalia? So she set out to design smoking wares for the aesthetically inclined – incredibly functional pieces that anyone would be proud to show off.
Ariel has over 20 years experience as a ceramicist, and it shows. Individually crafted from porcelain (with exquisite touches like crystals and 22 karat gold), her pipes are all uniquely handmade, designed with ergonomics in mind, and are as at home on your coffee table as in the park.
Ariel spoke with us from her home in Portland, Oregon about how she got started, her smoking ritual, and her views on the cannabis industry and where it’s headed.
Aja Sax: Hi Ariel! Let’s get into it! What is your smoking ritual?
Ariel Zimman: I prefer out of a pipe or a joint, that’s my personal thing. It’s usually when I have a day off, or it’s a nighttime relaxation method. I went from being an everyday smoker to pulling back once I started running my business.
AS: Why do you prefer pipes to other methods of smoking?
AZ: I haven’t used a bong since college, I don’t vape, I’ve never dabbed. I feel like with a pipe, it’s just the right amount for me. I also like the feeling of being able to taste the cannabis, unlike a vaporizer. I can control the amount I’m imbibing. I’m one of those people who finds half smoked joints in my jacket pockets all the time.
AS: What led you to start Stonedware and designing these pieces?
AZ: I already had my first business (in 2013) doing ceramic home decor. I was making things for the home, and basically I had a moment smoking with a friend out of my little rainbow hippie pipe. When we were done, I put it in a drawer and thought, “what am I doing?” I wasn’t hiding that I smoked, I was hiding this pipe that was totally not representative of my taste. It was an “a-ha” moment, the lightbulb turned on: “Oh, I need to make beautiful pieces”.
AS: What’s your creative process in the studio?
AZ: Well right now, the studio is much more geared toward production. It’s much more methodical, mechanical, process oriented work as opposed to creative endeavours. After the holidays, I will get to play, make some bad art. You have to play around and try different things to get to the solutions and pieces you like.
AS: Do you have a favorite piece in your collection?
AZ: For personal use, I prefer the large GeoPipe, and I have a rotating collection. There are a lot of attempts, or mess-ups that don’t come out just right. I am a perfectionist, so I tend to take home the mock ups.
AS: What does it mean to you to be a woman creating in the cannabis space?
AZ: I mean, I don’t know any other way [laughs]. I feel like there are a lot of really rad ladies approaching the cannabis space these days and it’s exciting. It’s an exciting time. There’s a really great support network of women who are pioneers, changing the social stigmas about it. I feel more impassioned working within the field than I did in home decor, and being a woman is just part of it.
AS: What excites you about the industry and where it’s heading?
AZ: You know, it’s 2 steps forward and 3 steps back, it feels at times. Obviously with the current administration in the US, there’s no telling what might happen. It would be foolish to think that it has no potential of being put on the chopping block, but I would like to believe that there is enough social momentum that it will continue to move forward. Just maybe not at the speed it was before. It often comes down to money, and as we are seeing in the legal states, the revenue is there.
AS: What positive changes are you seeing?
AZ: This idea of “why hide it?” You don’t hide your bar at home, no one hides their wine or whiskey glasses, why hide your pipe? As a designer, it’s obviously amazing to see people gravitating toward style pieces for their cannabis use as well.
Photo courtesy of Ariel Zimman