Isamu Noguchi, Arne Jacobsen, Philip Johnson, Philippe Starck—all revered designers, and all took the time to create an ashtray or two in their day. For those in the millennial generation and below, it may be hard to fathom, but before cigarettes were taboo and smoking them indoors was illegal, the ashtray was a piece of home decoration that was as common as it was artful.
What isn’t hard to fathom is the growth of the marijuana industry, and Seth Rogen, a well-known cannabis user with a passion for design and pottery, saw a hole in the market for smokers looking to elevate their setup like the cigarette smokers of yesteryear. Together with his longtime friend and filmmaking partner Evan Goldberg, Rogen’s launching Houseplant in the U.S. on March 11. It’s a line of weed (in states where it’s legal and in their native, weed-friendly Canada, where a small arm of the brand already exists), but it is also a line of house goods with smokers in mind.
“We are trying to really consider people who smoke weed in a way that they have not been considered before,” Rogen tells AD. “Just like alcohol has martini shakers, wine glasses, and corkscrews. If you are someone who smokes weed, there is really none of that. There are Bic lighters and you are ashing into a mug half the time.”
This venture has been a dream for a decade. With the success of their film Pineapple Express in 2008, Rogen and Goldberg ”realized that people who smoked weed were just an underserved audience,” says the Superbad actor. “And we also saw that when we put a lot of thought into weed and the world surrounding it, people really responded to it.”
That was all before Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, and although 13 states and Washington, D. C., have followed suit since then, “America is in a weird place,” says Rogen, pointing to the number of cannabis-related arrests still being made even as more states change their laws. “The only reason weed is illegal is racism. There is a huge way to go before the United States is anywhere close to the place that it should be surrounding weed.”
The slow crawl toward legalization is why Rogen’s idea took so long to get off the ground, but this incubation period allowed the house-goods portion to sprout. Rogen is a collector of vintage ashtrays, picking them up from antique stores in Palm Springs and New Orleans and ordering them from Etsy, eBay, and 1stDibs. The response to his Instagram posts about his vintage finds told him there was a market for a more stylish cannabis home product. “It stems from a very personal desire to have nice things,” he says.
Houseplant’s first round of offerings will include an ashtray and a matching vase, a block table lighter, and a set of three vinyl records with songs curated to set the mood for smoking different strains of weed. More products will roll out in the coming weeks, including a marble lighter that hearkens back to the ones once found in cars. (It plugs into the wall.) Brian Richer at Toronto-based Castor Design collaborated with the Houseplant team on the car lighter; the ashtray and vase are based on Rogen’s own creations on the pottery wheel.
“I think I took little bits of different ashtrays that I had and combined them,” Rogen says of his design. “Some ashtrays from the ’60s had these little beds, but what they didn’t have is a deep well. I found that if you have too shallow a well and someone walks by, ash blows everywhere. User-friendliness and a utilitarian edge is something that was incredibly important.“ Obviously, he puts his products to the test.
As his Instagram followers know, pottery has become a real passion for Rogen ever since he and his wife, Lauren Miller Rogen, took a lesson together three years ago. “We joined a studio and really just took to it. We’d go every night for hours. We spent so much time there that we built our own studio in the garage because we just didn’t like leaving our dog at home,” he says.
If you’ve ever taken a pottery class, you know how mysterious the kiln can seem. Even on the competition show The Great Pottery Throw Down, there’s someone manning the kiln for the contestants. Now that he has two in his home, “the kiln is much less intimidating,” he says. “We were so scared to get one at first, but we have fired the kilns over 200 times by now. It really demystifies the process.”
Right now, Rogen says he’s taking an online course to learn how to make his own glazes using things like cobalt and chrome oxide. “I have a closet full of chemicals,” he says. “I am going for an elaborate kind of layered texture [with my glaze]—like a Ken Price, gloopy, psychedelic, really dimensional thing.” Eventually, Rogen says, he’ll explore making his own handmade pieces available for purchase.
Clearly, Rogen is someone who is creative in everything he does, whether it is directing films about infiltrating North Korea or designing a new kind of weed accoutrement. “It was almost a scary moment for me when I realized I was able to express myself as clearly through a lighter as I was through a film,” he says. “Working on this company really became an obsession for me and the whole team. It was gratifying to feel like we were putting thought into an area that had not had thought put into it before. Whenever you feel like you are doing something original it is just really great.”
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest