Creating a psychedelic mushroom experience
Design MBA, California College of the Arts: Team Moosh 🍄
Moosh is the name of a theoretical business that educates consumers about psilocybin containing mushrooms and offers psychedelic mushroom tea. The final pop-up is a new retail experience from conceptualization through realization. *Note: Psychedelic mushrooms are decriminalized in California and not currently legalized in the U.S.
Lead the design and development process of a pop-up experience design and build.
A tested retail experience that led to:
- Over 25 real participants engaging in the final physical pop-up
- “Warm medical” brand look, feel, and messaging
- Information and layout design with live copy
- Flow and spatial design
- Considerations to extend concept with UX and e-commerce
“Congratulations on a great pop-up concept launch! It was great to see you incorporating feedback and refining your concept. Your value prop of education and safety conveyed in a playful brand was terrific.”
- Elizabeth Glenewinkel, Experience Studio Instructor, CCA & Vice President, Industries Research & Insights at Salesforce
Scrum, challenge statement, in-depth interviews, customer journey mapping, value proposition, prototyping, testing, information and visual design, presentation design, pop-up design
Canva, XD, Illustrator, InDesign, Zoom, Miro, Notion
Sept. 18 - Dec. 7, 2023 (3 months)
8’ x 8’ x 8’ final pop-up build
Psilocybin: The key ingredient in magic mushrooms is psilocybin, a naturally occuring psychedelic compound. Psilocybin containing mushrooms are commonly known as magic mushrooms or shrooms.
Psychedelic Drugs: Affect all senses, altering a person’s thinking, sense of time and emotions. Psychedelics can cause a person to hallucinate, seeing or hearing things that do not exist or are distorted.
Psilocybin Microdosing: The practice of using sub-threshold doses of psilocybin to improve creativity, boost physical energy level, promote emotional balance, increase performance on problems-solving tasks and to treat anxiety, depression and addiction.
This was a semester-long project on a team of four. The final deliverable is a pop-up design and build. Our initial charge was to research and analyze competitive markets and interview key individuals.
- Cannabis dispensory
- Supplement store
- Spice shop
- Spiritual Forager
- Medicinal User
- Novice User
- Framework Formation
- Challenge Statement
We identified five key insights:
- Potential users are hesitant to try psychedelic mushrooms due to lack of information
- Novice users prefer to be guided through their first “trip” with psilocybin containing mushrooms
- Seasoned psychedelic mushroom users are distrustful of the drug becoming commercialized
- Users are searching for a natural way to heal themselves of a variety of physical and mental ailments
- Microdosing psilocybin containing mushrooms will lead to a number of health benefits like better sleep, reduced symptoms of anxiety and PTSD
These led to our initial challenge statement:
How might we create an informed mushroom experience to honor the pre-existing culture of psilocybin containing mushrooms?
Each team member developed a storyboard to demonstrate initial concepts and customer journey.
Key learnings from storyboard ideation included:
- Use analogies: Incorporating analogies like “Alice in Wonderland” fosters a deeper and more engaging understanding
- Multi-Sensory approaches improve memorability
- Personalization of the experience significantly contributes to enhancing a sense of security, especially for first-time users
Concept storyboard by Savithri Valega
Rapid prototyping encouraged out-of-the-box thinking, divergence into technology, sensory, and false-door concepts. This session led to a refined challenge statement:
How might we resonsibly inform and guide the purchase and consumption of psychedelic mushrooms?
Tunnel + Pods
- “Alice in Wonderland” welcome tunnel
- Experience pods
- AI powered silicone mushroom “Trip-Sitter”
- Safety features like emergency contacts, location finder, breathing exercises
- “You-pick” mushroom selection process (Symbolizing foraging)
- On-site magic mushroom tea ceremony
Testing Key Touchpoints
After analyzing feedback from concept models, we moved forward with a new high concept:
Magic Mushroom Tea House - A Foraging Adventure and Tea Ceremony Experience
Phases of the new customer journey:
- Entice: Participant notices interesting signage on a new storefront on their commute home
- Enter: Participant books a three hour reservation online for a magic mushroom tea ceremony with three friends
- Engage: Participants pick their own mushrooms (symbolizing a foraging experience). Then they are greeted by a Mushroom guide who leads a guided tea ceremony.
- Exit and Extend: Participants buy a 10-pack of mushroom tea bags.
We designed and built a “Micro-pilot” aimed to test our riskiest assumption:
Do users want to pick their own mushrooms by learning about each strain before the mushroom tea ceremony?
Testing riskiest assumption: The “You-Pick” mushroom selection process
Insights from the Micro-pilot resulted in key learnings:
- Retail only - ditch the tea ceremony and shift thinking to design an educational retail experience
- Keep tea - for a novice tea is approachable, familiar, and ritualistic
- Travel theme - Create “Trip Kits” and design Moosh Passport (educational / safety brochure)
This led to an experience redesign which focussed on delivering an educational experience.
Final high concept:
Psychedelic mushroom trip kits - Chipotle meets your doctor’s office
Final Journey Map
Participant is invited to the Moosh grand openning via Instagram.
Participant fills out a survey measuring psilocybin knowledge and experience.
Participant selects the type of strain, dosage, and flavor extract.
Participant has a consult with a Moosh Trip Guide where safety, microdosing, and intention setting is explained via the Moosh Passport.
The last page of the Moosh Passport is the Moosh Frequent Flyer Program - participant receives a free Moosh mug with their 6th purchase.
Final Key Touchpoints
1. “Welcome to Moosh”
2. Filling out the survey
3. Planning your trip
4. Selecting strain
5. Selecting dosage
6. Selecting amount of tea bags
7. Selecting flavor extract
8. Safety consult with Moosh Trip Guide
9. Stamp (signature moment) + frequent flyer program
10. Final trip kit
11. “We hope you enjoy your first trip”
12. Extended experience: Microdosing tracker
“Why didn’t you incorporate digital UX in the experience?”
- Real participant
We decided to design the experience without screens because it spoke to our original challenge statement about honoring the pre-existing culture of psilocybin mushrooms. We even added a phone sticker in the Trip Kit, to encourage participants to place the sticker on their phones while under the influence of magic mushrooms. This project acted as a proof of concept for branding, experience, and information design. If we were to move it forward, digital interface design would be incorporated in next phases of this business design.
“You have a lot of ideas but you’re not married to any one of them.”
I was excited about this critique because I love to express a lot of ideas and directions, encouraging the team to do the same, while also remaining open and flexible to divergent ways of thinking during any phase of the process.
“Sometimes you take on too much responsibility.”
This critique confirmed something I am practicing to improve by setting expectations early, knowing my team’s skillsets and strengths, and delegating tasks.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
- Steve Jobs
Deciding to focus on a product that is not yet legal was a big challenge, yet with “can-do” attitudes, this team worked exceptionally well together to successfully execute a vision and create an innovative store experience.