Photography by Steven Pritzen
Glass is an amazing material most of us take for granted. We imagine the previous sentence brought out a snicker in many who read it, perhaps accompanied by thoughts like “glass? Amazing? You must be smoking too much of what you’re writing about Mr. Author.” Think about it for a moment though; glass starts out as sand, a substance not known to make seeing things easier. Through the magic of science and skill, trillions of tiny rocks are then metamorphosed into glass; something that not only lets us see the world outside clearly, but also happens to be a superior medium for cannabis consumption.
Grav Labs takes this amazing product and adds healthy doses of art, functionality and a bit more science to create a rare combination of beauty and practicality. We corresponded with founder Dave Daily and talked to operations guru Kate Csillagi to find out how Grav goes about accomplishing said combination so consistently. What we learned, among other things, is that it boils down to the people and their desire to create things in which they take pride. As a result, it is difficult to objectively describe Grav Labs and not sound like they paid us to write an advertisement. We assure you, wise reader, this is merely the side effect of doing things as they should be done.
And just how should they be done? With glass pieces that are both stylish and superior in their ability to deliver smoke. Their first system, The Gravitron, exemplifies those criteria perfectly. Colloquially known as a gravity bong, the Gravitron epitomizes style by having the appearance of a wine bottle and delivering what is perhaps the most efficient smoking experience possible for cannabis flower. By utilizing the vacuum created when the bottle is lifted from the water surrounding it, literally all the smoke is trapped inside the created space.
One might think there would be nowhere to go from there; maximum style and performance surely can’t be maintained indefinitely, could it? Indeed it could, as there is more than one way to smoke a bowl. Each has its own intricacies to be dealt with and there are plenty of ways for Grav Labs neo-artisan approach toward glass pipe creation to shine.
“Pipe design is not yet an academic discipline,” says Dave. Which might come as something as a shock to anyone who has seen a unique piece such as Grav’s Helix; if NASA or the National Institute of Standards and Technology designed glass pipes, the Helix is what their design would look like. He ads further emphasis on the word “yet” and explains, “[w]e test and retest and retest again. We are tireless in our research and development department. In fact, we are probably the only company in the pipe industry that has a fully staffed R&D department.” The investment shows.
It’s no surprise then that Grav Labs has spotted appropriations of their designs in competitor’s offerings. Though they say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, it can also be a major headache for the one being imitated. In particular, the poor folks who’ve end up with a cheap knockoff, which Kate tells us is a surprisingly large problem. Kate and her colleagues will often field complaints with regard to defects when consumers believe they’ve purchased an authentic Grav. To avoid such problems Kate recommends checking Grav’s store locator on their website, www.grav.com.
So how does Grav Labs avoid copying the innovations of their skilled competitors? Dave says “[t]he secret is respecting their work, learning from their mistakes, and working together whenever possible. If we begin the design process from the right place, quality original design will surface.”