UK design studio NewTerritory has developed a conceptual wellness product for inhaling psychedelic drugs in microdoses, in anticipation of a future in which the substances are legalised for mental health treatment.
Titled Human Nature, the proposal envisions how psilocybin – the psychoactive compound produced by hallucinogenic mushrooms – and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) could be consumed in small, regular doses to improve wellbeing.
In the concept, the drugs are contained in biodegradable capsules and dispensed via a simplified inhaler known as a spacer. As these pods are pressurised at lower levels than a standard inhaler, this would allow users to breathe in their contents in small sips.
With the project, NewTerritory hopes to bring attention to the growing body of evidence, including from Imperial College London's Centre for Psychedelic Research, showing that psychedelics could help treat depression and other mental health issues.
"At the moment, people are starting these clinical trials and actually find it difficult to continue them because the substances are so heavily regulated," NewTerritory creative director James Ravenhall told Dezeen.
"So we wanted to shine a spotlight on how they could become part of our everyday, or every other day."
There is also commercial potential in the field, with some research predicting that the market for psychedelic drugs will more than double by 2027 to reach a value of $10.75 billion.
NewTerritory based the product concept on the way that cannabidiol (CBD) from the cannabis plant is now being sold and marketed as a wellness product.
With this in mind, the Human Nature inhaler draws on a popular wellness practice known as breathwork, in which breathing exercises are used to help calm the mind.
Similarly, the spacer would allow users to consume psychedelics slowly, almost meditatively over several minutes, with the whole experience taking on the feel of a healthy ritual, NewTerritory said.
NewTerritory imagined four types of capsules in its concept. The studio claims that the Focus pod containing LSD would improve short-term memory and increase concentration, while the Create capsule with psilocybin would help to enable creative thinking and expression.
The studio also envisaged two pods containing psychoactive substances that are already in medicinal use: Dream, containing the sleep hormone melatonin, and Relax, which contains CBD that NewTerritory says could ease cognitive tension and limit the production of stress hormones.
The pods would be sent out in personalised packs direct to consumers. They could optionally be used with companion products, including an app with guided meditations and wearables such as contact lenses or patches that would track physiological changes.
The latter two products would help people to gain a better understanding of their bodies and their reaction to different drugs, NewTerritory said.
Even though clinical research has explored the effects of both small and large psychedelic doses, Ravenhall said the studio chose to focus on microdosing as "a little bit of a soft entry into the world of psychedelics".
"With the stigmas that are associated with psychedelics, large dosing becomes something that alienates a lot of people," he said. "And actually, microdosing has an immense amount of benefits and those kinds of small, regular dosages help create ritual and habit."
"It is also semi-similar to the world we're now in with CBD, where at one point it was about large doses, usually smoked. And now, it's about very, very small doses being woven into our food, our drinks, those kinds of things."
NewTerritory designed Human Nature's packaging with reference to homeware and domestic objects. Drawing on the playfulness found in the work of Spanish designer Jaime Hayon, the shape of the pods is a visual metaphor for their intended use, so Dream has a cloud-like form while Focus comes to a sharp point.
The studio also researched emerging materials to make the product more sustainable, considering options such as reground aerated glass for the spacer and biodegradable algae packaging that would dissolve in water for the pods.
NewTerritory is a London-based studio founded in 2014 by Luke Miles, the former design head of British airline Virgin Atlantic.
With cannabis now legal in several countries, designers have created a range of different products for marijuana consumption from sculptural bongs to edibles in minimalist packaging by Dosist, which are sold via luxurious dispensaries such as Toronto's Edition.