At first glance this looks more like a coffee shop than a laundromat, but I guess I would expect nothing less when Pinkeye Crossover Design Studio in involved with the project. For the Wasbar in Ghent, they have created a cool and modern design for a laundromat. For anyone who has ever had to use one, generally it is a dreadful experience. This solution creates an environment where people can come for a drink, do their laundry, meet up with friends or even get a hair cut.
As for the functional laundry portion of this establishment, the washers and dryers line the walls. Each washer has been given the name of a grandmother and the dryers have been named after grandfathers. A nice touch of nostalgia and certainly more appealing then the standard numbers you often seen on machines. There is also a separate folding room, so that you are not having a drink with your friends and folding your clothes at the same table. It also preserves the unmentionable items for you, as opposed to sharing your choice of sizes and styles with your friends in the larger open space.
Many of the other fixtures and furnishings at Wasbar have been upcycled. Vintage furniture has been given a second life with a new coat of paint. There are lampshades made from coat hangers and colorful clothesline has been strung about in a playful manner. A collage of drawer boxes have been mounted to the walls to display information about washing cycles, prices, the menu, and hair care services. The colorfully tiled bar and overall color scheme again harken back grandma’s days. There is even a piano if anyone has the urge to provide some entertainment. Everything has been designed to be comfortable and cozy with a touch of nostalgia to contrast with the more isolating technology driven society that we seem to be collectively moving toward.
This is actually a fabulous solution for young professionals and students. It is a community, not so unlike the corner coffee shop. We all need to wash our clothes and Wasbar simply makes the experience of visitng a laundromat much more pleasurable. You can multitask while waiting for your laundry. Meet up with some friends for food, have your hair cut or complete tasks via their wifi access. The concept is simple and my guess is that it will be very effective in drawing and maintaining a dedicated following. Wasbar in Ghent is the original, but they plan to expand to other cities throughout Belgium. They are also thinking ahead with marketing and branding solutions, such as the sale of sturdy laundry bags to carry clothing back and forth from home to the unique launderette with their cool and fresh logo.
Wasbar is a completely new concept and I think they are well on their way to creating a brand all of their own. The latest news from Wasbar is that they are holding specific gatherings around activities such as knitting, flower arranging and even a “Creative with Cork” gathering. Maybe Wasbar is joining the maker movement as well, or at least capitalizing on a lighter version of it.
Photos by Arne Jennard