Interiors I by

How London’s launderettes offer a snapshot of a city in flux

Photographer Joshua Blackburn has captured the surprisingly colourful interiors of London’s launderettes for Launderama – a book celebrating their enduring place in culture.

Armed with a map, a spreadsheet and 462 names, Blackburn spent months trekking across the city to photograph every launderette in the Greater London Postcode District.

How London’s launderettes offer a snapshot of a city in flux
Photography: © Joshua Blackburn for Launderama: London’s Launderettes Published by Hoxton Mini Press

First drawn to the neon lights ‘spilling onto the street at night’, Blackburn soon started taking pictures of everything from marble-effect walls to the angular lines of 1960s industrial design. His photographs reveal spaces frozen in time, filled with dated typefaces, pastel colours and retro logos.

But his work tells another story too. What was once a high street staple is rapidly disappearing from London. Often, notes Blackburn in the book’s introduction, many launderettes were converted into coffee shops or bakeries by the time he visited them, and some he’d shot at the beginning of his project had closed down 18 months later.

How London’s launderettes offer a snapshot of a city in flux
Photography: © Joshua Blackburn for Launderama: London’s Launderettes Published by Hoxton Mini Press

All this, despite their unshakable hold on our cultural imagination. As Blackburn points out, launderettes are ‘almost revered’ in fashion and advertising, where they’ve formed the backdrop to several campaigns – not least the iconic 1985 Levi’s commercial.

‘In an increasingly homogenous world – fast, convenient and digital – the launderette is resolutely analogue, both in spirit and practice. It is out of time and out of place, literally and emotionally, simultaneously creating the reason for their appeal and the cause of their decline,’ he writes.

‘Launderama’ is out now published via Hoxton Mini Press.

How London’s launderettes offer a snapshot of a city in flux
Photography: © Joshua Blackburn for Launderama: London’s Launderettes Published by Hoxton Mini Press
How London’s launderettes offer a snapshot of a city in flux
Photography: © Joshua Blackburn for Launderama: London’s Launderettes Published by Hoxton Mini Press

Step into Jean-Luc Godard’s office – recreated at Fondazione Prada

Latest Stories

Latest

Share Tweet
+

Privacy Preference Center

Required Cookies & Technologies

Some of the technologies we use are necessary for critical functions like security and site integrity, account authentication, security and privacy preferences, internal site usage and maintenance data, and to make the site work correctly for browsing and transactions.

gdpr, woocommerce_cart_hash, woocommerce_items_in_cart, _wp_wocommerce_session, sucuri_cloudproxy_uuid_*

Site Customisation

Cookies and similar technologies are used to improve your experience, to do things like:

- remember your login, general, and regional preferences
- personalize content, search, recommendations, and offers

Without these technologies, things like personalised recommendations, your account preferences, or localisation may not work correctly.

wp-settings-*

Personalised Advertising

These technologies are used for things like:

- personalised ads
- to limit how many times you see an ad
- to understand usage via Google Analytics
- to understand how you got to our web properties
- to ensure that we understand the audience and can provide relevant ads

We do this with social media, marketing, and analytics partners (who may have their own information they’ve collected). Saying no will not stop you from seeing our ads, but it may make them less relevant or more repetitive.

_ga, _gid, gat,_gads,_fbp