January 25th, 2013 – Say goodbye to run-down lint filled laundry mats, and say hello to Wasbar Ghent, a launderette/meeting place where people can enjoy a drink with friends or get a new hairdo in one of the two hairdresser’s chairs, all while waiting for the wash to be done. Only one question, how did human kind make it to the moon, before we constructed an all-in-one concept laundry mat? Chew on that one.
The social club of a laundry shop occupies a former bookshop. The designers at Antwerp-based studio Pinkeye, gave the worn-out parquet floor a fresh coat of lacquer, while the ceiling with its decorative mouldings was left intact. The technical aspect presented the biggest challenge. ‘A launderette primarily requires plenty of brain-work and preparatory work: you need extra power to keep everything running and we wanted to hide the pipes and wiring from view,’ Pinkeye’s creative director Ruud Belmans explains. The pipes and wiring are ensconced in the cellar, leaving just the rows of sleek machines in the space above. ‘There’s nothing about a washing machine which says it has to stand in an unpleasant space.’
The main patrons of Wasbar are students, as it is located in a bustling collegiate city. Pinkeye and Wasbar’s owners took these users into mind while creating the space, ‘What does the student want?’ wondered the young, ambitious proprietors, Dries Henau and Yuri Vandenbogaerde. To spend their time more usefully, I mean more enjoyably, than sitting in a cheerless, bare space with garish strip-lighting in the midst of a ‘soundcloud’ din of whirring machines.
With that in mind, Wasbar is designed to be quite the opposite: cozy and convivial. The washing theme plays the lead role in the elongated interior. The 18 washing machines are situated on a long wall and bear the names of ‘grand old ladies’. While the tumble dryers take the names of grandpas.
Besides employing this kind of upcycling, Pinkeye conceived a palette of toned-down salmon pink, pistachio, cornflower and royal blue, as well as a graphic identity in the form of a two-fold logo: a clothes-peg crossed with a bottle-opener. The lampshades were created from coat-hangers and colorful clotheslines playfully break up the space.
Second-hand chairs were given a lick of green or blue paint. Fashion designers Black Balloon created dapper laundry bags so that you don’t have to trawl through the city with a transparent plastic bag full of personal wares.
Pinkeye showcases menus and signage are fitted into vintage dresser drawers, then turned some of the drawers up right to function as a wall shelf, where cool retro home accessories are situated.
Wasbar taps into the social trend of people wanting to commune again, to meet face-to-face instead of whiling away an hour with ‘wassups?’ on an iPhone. Patrons can even practice their riffs on the Wasbar piano.
(Photography: Arne Jennard)
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