On Design, Creativity, And Weed: Q+A With Mister Green

Mister Green founder Ariel Stark-Benz dishes on what gets his juices flowing, and the vision behind his Los Angeles-based life store.

Mister Green is a retail sanctuary for the modern cannabis consumer and collector of vintage drug scene wares. Inside, you might find an issue of High Times magazine from the weed-porn publication's golden era, a new pocket tee, or a high-end/low-tech joint-rolling machine.

The Los Angeles "life store," which is located on an East Hollywood corner just down the street from the Church of Scientology world headquarters, is part head shop, part boutique, and is in a sense, a kind of cannabis-centric apothecary. Currently,  Mister Green stands out as an ultra-hip alternative to the sea of super casual, semi-outdated bong retailers in Southern California. 

On a sunny afternoon, during one of the most intense heat waves of the summer, KINDLAND dropped into the shop to chat with its founder and head creative, Ariel Stark-Benz––a designer who has spent time honing his craft in New York, Japan, and California.

KINDLAND: So, when I first heard the name of your shop, Mister Green, my thoughts definitely immediately turned to weed. What else inspired the name, and how did you arrive at Mister Green?
Ariel Stark-Benz: I felt like the name was extremely to the point, however if we were a bottled juice company – or a dress sock brand for that matter, no one would feel led astray. "Mister Green Motor Oil... wait – that sounds like a cannabis brand" is something no one would have ever said. Really Mister Green just sounded fairly classic and flexible, though straightforwardly cannabis focussed.

KINDLAND: What inspires/influences your creative and design process––from clothes and accessories to the storefront space?
Stark-Benz: I'm a big design fan, and I am a big culture lover– I try to marry the two whenever possible. My approach to Mister Green has always started there. 

Some initial questions regarding product have always been – what's out there, where is there a hole to fill? Then, what can I make that I know people will want to buy without having to think about it too hard? Finally – the gut check– would "I" buy this for myself or someone else? 

Regarding the shop space it was a bit more simple, I wanted to create a place that would amuse people's curiosity, inspire their curiosity, and generally to help introduce a potentially new perspective on a culture that seemed predominantly one note.

"I've got a shop full of rad options and I still love rolling joints the most."

KINDLAND: Mister Green's products are crucial to the lifestyle of the modern cannabis consumer. As California gears up for recreational legalization, do you have any plans on expanding into a cannabis retailer?
Stark-Benz: If it ultimately makes sense, and I believe it does, I do want to expand into cannabis retail. I would love very much to open Mister Green dispensaries, I consider that the next phase of life for Mister Green. I'm looking for good partners, in case you know anyone? :)

KINDLAND: What is the coolest weed-ancillary product you've ever come across?
Stark-Benz: Great question! I feel like the Summerland "Chongo" almost defines this new era of products, that being said– almost equally so Gatorbeug's Glass Beug (a glass replica of a DIY gatorade bong) is amazing and its design-rebellion is genre defining in it's own right. I also love the tool that makes a quick and easy watermelon bong :)

KINDLAND: What is your preferred consumption method?
Stark-Benz: I've got a shop full of rad options and I still love rolling joints the most.

KINDLAND: What's next for Mister Green?
Stark-Benz: We are gearing up of for the launch of our third collection, next month. Plus a few things I can't divulge just yet, but sure would like to! Stay tuned :)

All photos by Ben Karris.