Julia Sherman: Tell me about your plans to start your online shop. What inspired you to move into the “eh….. 4’20 lifestyle” business?
Luren Jenison: We’re working on a web-based retail project for aesthetic pot smokers — a place where you buy your cool mom a pipe, or find something as special and pleasing as the rest of the curated objects you enjoy in every day life, such as nice japanese kitchen shears or a treasured keepsake. We’re trying to create a positive, feminized, de-stigmatized space where someone can wander around and enjoy the experience of finding tools and accessories that are perfect for them, without having to feel the shame of ducking into a headshop.
JS: How would you describe the current aesthetic around pot?
LJ: I would say that the aesthetic and retail experience of shopping for cannabis lifestyle accessories is one of the worst, most unpleasant and frequently avoided experiences around! It can be intimidating, bro-y, and tacky, and I think its a huge barrier against people finding the best thing out there for them, so people end up with swirly glass boners that stink like a dorm room. However, we’re living in a transitional time, where cannabis is finally out of the closet and moving toward inevitable end of Prohibition and is every day becoming more de-stigmatized and I think its about to be a very positive time for people who enjoy cannabis for its true medicinal, creative and relaxation benefits.
JS: Do you plan to design anything yourself for the store?
LJ: We have been collecting some really amazing things from the market, and are developing some exclusive products for the store. Luckily all of our friends are amazing artists and designers so there are some really refined, amazingly special collaborations on the way.
JS: So many of your projects are ephemeral, do you prefer to work this way?
LJ: I’ve been working in decor, floral, event type fields for many years and I do like the now-it’s-here now-it’s-not immediacy of creating those experiences. They happen, they’re overpoweringly enjoyable, and then they exist only in memory. But I’m excited to be working on this project now, that brings together a collection of objects that can be treasured and enjoyed for a lifetime. Both ways of working are special, because you’re enhancing someones life experience for the better either way, if you’re doing a good job!
JS: You have an incredible knack for design and style, unlike anyone I know.
LJ: That’s a real compliment coming from you! I feel like I’ve just been trying to simplify everything in my life lately…
JS: You grew up in a really interesting family. Can you tell me about your parents and siblings and what it was like to be surrounded but such eccentric and interesting people?
LJ: My sisters and I are all real blends of my parents’ qualities and passions. My mom, Leslie, is an amazing artist and quilter who is really dedicated to her studio practice and teaching and bringing her new techniques to people all over the world, as well as having been a labor and delivery nurse when I was growing up, and my dad, Tim, is a mad scientist, optical wizard, inventor, and mystery solver who delves deep into everything he does and explores further than any average sane person would. We would have Mom scooting us around her quilt frame to hand-quilt her pieces with her, and Dad dragging us over to the warehouse to solder capacitors onto circuit boards and powdercoat and bake face-plates for switchers. Pretty average stuff. We all have weird skills in the tool box.
JS: How did you and your sister end up finding these crazy foraged plants?
LJ: I’ve always been interested in plants and flower identification and gardening from hanging in the dirt with my mom, who is also a master gardener. My sister Claire worked with a wild food forager who was a friend of mine in Vermont and Maine a few years ago and we both caught the bug for zipping around in the woods chewing stuff up and spitting it out and delving deep into identifying edible and medicinal plants. On our way back from a wedding on Bear Island in Maine, we stopped off at some beaches and trails and grabbed all these insanely aromatic, flavorful treasures: scotch lovage, sea rocket, beach peas, tansy, yarrow, beach roses, salt wart, plantain, wormwood, moss. The world opens up in colors and textures once you start crushing up leaves under your nose everywhere you go.
JS: You have traveled all over the world in search of crafts. What are some of the craziest adventures you have undertaken in the name of the the handmade?
LJ: History and chemistry and anthropology were really abstract for me until I started studying textiles from around the world and then it was like time and place and culture and context all clicked into place like the pieces in a puzzle and I want to explore more and forever. I’ve had sort of a clandestine love affair with the southwest since I was 7 or 8 and would go stay with my aunt in Taos, Albuquerque, and Tesuque so I try to sneak down to Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah when possible and drive around looking at plants and talking to crafts people. Some friends and I have gone to the Din’e (Navajo) shepherding and sheep lifestyle conference and been blown away by dust devils and chased by wild dogs while trying to talk to traditional dyers, weavers, and jewelers in some of the reservation communities.
JS: You are a collector of things. Tell me about some of your collections and found objects.
LJ: Man, I’m in this phase of getting rid of things and I can’t even tell you how many rocks and shells I’ve deposited in people’s planters or on window sills in my neighborhood that were once “the best rock” and now I can’t even remember where they came from. If I keep something or get something it’s because of its special purposefulness, its thingness that is so specific it could be no other “thing.” Rough or refined, utilitarian, spare, purposeful, beautiful. That’s what I like.