When Standard Dose opened its doors on Broadway in New York City in May 2019, the hemp craze hadn’t yet hit peak saturation. Curiosity was high, but knowledge was low. Hucksters espoused dubious claims about the benefits of cannabidiol, while hip coffee shops eagerly upsold their customers on adding 5mg of the substance into their matcha. Standard Dose, which started as an ecommerce platform, sought to help the CBD-curious sift through the snake oil and find the products with the highest-quality ingredients and verifiable claims. Its physical space created an important sanctuary for customers to access the sensory state of calm provided by things like plant medicine, yoga, and meditation.
Built around cannabidiol and its integration into a lifestyle of luxury and wellbeing, the Standard Dose brand was founded by Anthony Sangier, who serves as chief executive officer. The success of his well-realized online boutique prompted him to bring the brand into the physical world, and he secured a prime location in the bustling NoMad area of Manhattan. He tapped designers Christopher Gardner (TUNA) and Sacha Roubeni (SR Projects), giving the pair a razor-tight deadline and a clear vision of how the sleek website would be reimagined in the real world.
With just three months to transform the empty store into a temple of tranquility, the pair moved with admirable aplomb. Working against them was New York City’s notorious quagmire of building regulations. Gardner said they were able to meet the aggressive timeline with the help of an expeditor who secured permits quickly and strategically, as well as a key contractor who happened to be available and eager to expand into the retail market. “Without this team, it’s hard to imagine the project working out as well as it did,” he said.
The Standard Dose store is a portal into a quiet, peaceful world of opulent wellness and a sanctuary from the cacophony of New York City streets. “We wanted it to be an immediately relaxing and refreshing experience — a moment of respite from the chaos and noise of Broadway and the city generally,” Roubeni said.
The pair of designers drew heavily from serene spaces in the Mediterranean, the warmth of Japanese tea houses, and the theatrical suspense of work by installation artists James Turrell and Robert Irwin. All the sources of inspiration came together to create a multi-room retail and lifestyle experience that has a “fluid succession of spaces from the front to the back,” according to Roubeni.
The main shop floor is a long, thin room with a dropped baffle ceiling that unfolds in distinct sections, each designed to evoke relaxation as it showcases a different aspect of the business. Throughout the room, the interplay between the straight lines of tile, the counter and shelves, and the curved mirrors and archways framing the room’s divisions balances the space and provides a seductive mystique.
“If you look in from the street, all the arched openings align, and all you can see is a giant succulent plant deep in the back of the store,” Gardner said. “This counters the typical retail space — which puts all of the display right behind the storefront glass — and instead creates a sense of mystery and intrigue deep in the store, encouraging an exploration of the space and establishing an end point that will show you the entire store along the way.”
Upon entering, customers pass a brief garden of thin cacti housed in the wall as they move toward the seated terrazzo bar where product demonstrations and focused education take place. A small array of products is housed discreetly in bathroom-style recessed shelving units and dotted along an island countertop next to an elegant sink and mirror where customers can clean up after sampling topicals, an important product category for Standard Dose. The store stocks an assortment of aesthetically pleasing hemp products from brands like Vybes, Juna, Hum, Moon Juice, Prima, and The Good Patch, all of which have their CBD content independently verified by third-party labs.
While the inventory on the shop floor is light and not immediately obvious upon entering, the intentionality of the space leaves the subtle impression products are placed as they might be in their future homes in minimalist bathrooms and kitchens of debonair New Yorkers. But Gardner insists any commonality between the space and literal home rooms is incidental. A hallmark of his firm’s style is “avoid[ing] any pretext of spatial type or function.”
“We wanted to take the different elements of the space — the tile wall, the counter, the stucco wall, the beauty sink — and treat them independently,” he explained. “I think this extends to a broader design approach that is dubious of qualifying spaces as ‘a bathroom’ or ‘a kitchen’ and instead opts to calibrate the function of the space to the exact needs of the project.”
Regardless, Standard Dose’s presentation of relaxation and wellness establishes the relationships between new, novel products and a familiar lifestyle, which back in 2019 was an important connection to forge for CBD-curious-yet-confused consumers. Standard Dose’s approach employs a full sensory experience (a signature scent even permeates the air) to induce feelings of bliss and relaxation before sending customers home with a little something to help them achieve that state in their own living rooms.
Standard Dose also doubles as a yoga and meditation space. The powdery pastel room in the back of the store is dotted with comfy floor pillows. Prior to the pandemic, the store hosted two kinds of meditation sessions: a longer, more engaged session and a twenty-minute stress reset for harried New Yorkers on their lunch break.
One of the most striking features of the store is the meditation room’s faux skylight installation. Created by Italian company CoeLux, the sixteen-square-foot box uses a combination of super-powered LEDs, mirrors, and nanoparticles to create remarkably realistic natural light. Gardner said Standard Dose is the first publicly accessible space in the United States to have one.
“It is truly something that has to be experienced in person to be believed,” he said. “For me, it’s a great juxtaposition of cutting-edge technology with the elemental human sensation of being in the sun without calling attention to itself. On a sunny day, people don’t even realize it’s artificial.”
On the edge of the meditation area is a tea bar, which looks straight out of the pages of Kinfolk magazine and serves blends of healing, detox, and immunity-boosting teas. This, the rooftop yoga space, and the spa treatment area help to further establish an innate connection between CBD and wellbeing, something the store does with significantly more intention and commitment than many of its competitors.
Given its prime location in what could be described as the proud global hub of stress and anxiety, Standard Dose has cut out the noise and given its patrons a safe sanctuary to learn about products and practices that can restore some much-needed calm to their daily lives.