My partner Mia is obsessed with laundry, we have 2 kids so we do it quite often. However i'm obsessed with a different kind of laundry and that is the vintage/ retro laundromat aka in the UK laundrette. There are many reasons why and in this article i will explain the enduring appeal of the laundromat alongside a few of my favourite pictures and resources on the topic.
A little bit of history about the British laundrette, according to an article in Optima Magazine, The British launderette is 70 years with the first British automatic laundry opened in Queensway, London, on 9 May, 1949, and the word launderette was coined.
Laundrettes have also been used in fashion editorials and advertising a lot in the past, most famously for the Levi's 501 commercial. However, NOW, in 2019, laundrettes are now experiencing a new popularity due to
* increased loneliness - it is a social place where people can reconnect
* increased focus on sustainability and the sharing economy
* online shopping leading to an increase of service business' on the high street
* the increased trend of mindfulness where watching clothes spin around soapy water is very relaxing
* people's disillusionment with online dating leading to a return to old fashion ways of finding romance
There are many reasons why laundrettes or laundromats have remained popular, now as we live in an age of limited social contact, making chit chat over waiting for clothes to dry in a public place remains one of life's simple connectors.
However, aesthetically they are so pleasing and especially in this instagram-crazy world we are living in, the repetitive forms and pop colours alongside the mundane details and graphic notices and signs simply makes for rich visual stimulation. With their bold colours they are also a great backdrop to fashion, where the models always look really out of place standing in fancy clothes or bikini's in front of utilitarian machines.
Artist Joshua Blackburn is behind the Instagram account coinop_london. He is aiming to photograph every laundrette in London and you can see them featured in his feed. I really loved this as i'm also a fan of visually arresting Instagram account @accidentallywesanderson with which i feel it shares its aesthetic.
If you thought that the laundromat is dying out and is soon going to be extinct, then you can think again because there are also new versions disrupting the washing market. In Australia, Powder is a new chain of laundromats that don't take coin, they also have free wifi and a cheeky brand aesthetic that appeals to the urbanites living around their locations. With 4 locations around Melbourne the aesthetic definitely nods to the nostalgic style we know and love but its now been updated for the millennial /instagram-crazy generation.
Also, seemingly defying demographic reality, the number of coin laundries in Japan has grown by 60 percent over the past 20 years.
Apparently in Japan, despite the fact that more people have washing machines inside their flats or houses, visits to laundromats are increasing. This article in Japan Times further explores this phenomenon. There are some theories that the rise in popularity is due to the fact that people living in small apartments just don't have the space the dry things properly, and also that there are more and more laundrettes in Japan that are equip with wifi, refreshments and comfortable seating which makes washing your clothes more of a social activity than just house work.
This place in Williamsburg, New York is phenomenal and clear testament that many people are inspired by laundromats and laundry life!
Housed in a modern, airy and bright building Celsious calls themselves a 'Modern Laundry' and combines a cafe, chillout area, and amazing design with the activity of washing clothes. They were inspired by changing the univiting atmosphere that most laundromats have to create a space that is really welcoming, warm and fun. You can oooh and ahhh over this whole Dezeen article about this cool place that is definitely worth a visit.
So if you are wondering - what is the connection between this article and Goodordering (like me right now) well, the answer is, as a designer i am inspired by brightly coloured functional forms. And what is more functional on an everyday basis than the humble washing machine. Its like a Goodordering bag that you take with you every day, a trusted friend. I love the forms of the machines stacked up on each other, their repeated friendly geometric shapes and their universal accessibility. Laundromats are the ultimate connector of humans after all dirty undies is something that everyone can relate to.
Read more about our design and colour inspiration on these articles here: