This thesis project explores the realm of laundromat design both through text and conceptual design application. The text specifically explores the history of laundry and how laundromat design can be improved not only to provide a cleaner and more stimulating atmosphere for clients but also to create a stronger business model for laundromats through the incorporation of retail design concepts. The final portion of this thesis project focuses on design application and culminates with a plan for a laundromat re-design in Annapolis, MD which takes historic references, derived concepts and design principles explored throughout this research paper and applies them to an existing laundromat.
Conceptually, since laundromat spaces are primarily about cleaning, what it means to be clean, and symbolism related to cleanliness became a major research component for this project. Inspiration for the conceptual design related to cleanliness was specifically derived from Victorian Baths and the symbolic nature of de-robing as part of the cleansing process, the importance of purity and cleanliness as it relates to religion and lastly the concept of being "clean" and "green" as part of a larger environmental movement. These areas of research along with inspiration from the history of laundry informed the overall conceptual design of the Laundromat space as well as certain aspects of the Laundromat's business model. A secondary area of research was also conducted focusing on technical design aspects and the business of designing a laundromat. Specifically looking at existing typologies and exploring frequently utilized retail design concepts and how they can be applied to a service oriented facility such as a laundromat to generate more business.
Research for this project was for the most part conducted through books sourced from the Library of Congress. However, on-site observations and on-line research of Laundromat precedents and demographic research also played an informative role.
The results of this research lead to the development of a design project that is by nature balanced: one that was inspired and informed conceptually by the history of laundry and what it means to be clean but one that was also tempered by retail design and business principles aimed to help increase a business' overall exposure to the public as well as their total sales.
Laundromats are places generally designed to simply operate on a functional level supplying their customers with adequate facilities for the domestic activity of cleaning and drying clothes. Ironically however, people perceive them as dirty and not well-maintained. This thesis aims to play a role in inspiring change not only when it comes to the design of these often under-designed yet frequently utilized places but also to reinvent the way that laundry, its physical public space and its users are perceived within the community and themselves create community as a whole.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Masters of Arts
Corcoran College of Art + Design (Washington, D.C.)
Masters Theses from the Corcoran College of Art + Design
The Corcoran College of Art + Design has non-exclusive publication rights. Permission is granted to quote from the thesis with the customary acknowledgement of the source. Copyright for each article is retained by the author. Republication in any form requires permission from the author of the thesis.