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issue: June 2008 APPLIANCE Magazine

The Open Door
The Bigger Laundry Picture

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by Pernilla Döse, strategic design manager, Asko Cylinda AB, and Brittany Musacchio, public relations coordinator, Asko Appliances Inc.

For many years, subcontractors and producers of laundry appliances have focused on improving the performance of a single product, be it a pump, radiator, motor, or the complete, assembled appliance. This has given the world washing machines and dryers that are built with even better quality, energy efficiency, cleaning performance, and usability than ever before. For these excellent laundry units to gain increased consumer recognition, the appliance industry is utilizing designs with increased emphasis on size and design. The result can sometimes be overwhelming for the consumer. Oversized products, bold colors, and daring new shapes are gaining popularity, forcing manufacturers to produce more and more innovative machines.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with making superior laundry appliances, and we should continue improving them. But what more can be done? Are we missing something? Don’t consumers have other laundry needs to be met?

When one thinks of having to “do laundry,” it often conjures up negative feelings. It’s a necessary chore that nobody wants to do. Part of the negative attitude emanates from the laundry room itself. Nobody likes spending time in a dingy old basement or a small, cramped, and cluttered room. Add to this the fact that most laundry rooms are not even designed to be practical, and it’s easy to see why most people have angst toward this mundane chore. Just because there is a washer and dryer in the room does not make it a usable or pleasant laundry room.

As appliance companies, isn’t it our job to make the experience with our products pleasant? Engineers and designers should consider the following questions: Where and how is dirty laundry stored? Or how about sorting laundry? Do you have an overflowing laundry basket that you have to dump out the contents of, only to then sort the clothes all over the floor? How do you hang dry clothes? Where is clean laundry stored while waiting to be folded or ironed? And when it’s time to iron, you need the ironing board handy, but the rest of the time, you need it out of the way. Finally, if you have managed to put together a practical laundry room, how does it look? This room is probably not as nice as your living room or even the kitchen.

The space that can successfully answer all of those issues is the modern laundry area. This space is nothing like the laundry rooms of the past. This is an area that is more than a laundry room. It is a craft room, a bathroom, or spa area. It is a master suite, and it is even a part of the kitchen. If someone is going to spend a large portion of his or her time in this space, it needs to be convenient, innovative, and attractive. The appliances must have a design that is able to blend in with the interior and contribute to a harmonious environment. And they must be design coordinated, something which has been compulsory for kitchen appliances for quite some time.

This space also needs to work with one’s lifestyle. Multiple sets of laundry are becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity. It makes much more sense for the washer and dryer to be located where the dirty clothes are generated, versus in a completely random location in the house. Washer and dryer in the master suite—check. Washer and dryer in the bathroom closet by the kids’ rooms—check. Extra-large-capacity washers and dryers are being placed in multiple locations throughout the house.

In keeping with trends that have already influenced the kitchen, laundry appliances and accessories now are able to be fully integrated into any setting. Not only is this an innovative and luxurious product, but it is allowing the homeowner to incorporate laundry into places that would not otherwise be appropriate for laundry appliances. Try combining the laundry room with rooms used less frequently—a study, a guest room, or an exercise room.

What does this mean for appliance companies? There are unexplored opportunities here. It is up to us manufacturers to start fulfilling the new needs of consumers.

The modern home demands modern laundry. Washers, dryers, and laundry accessories that can keep up with the fast-paced world we live in, all the while making the world we live in more functional, organized, and luxurious. No longer will people think of their laundry room as an eyesore, but more of a truly functional space that is pleasant to spend time in, while treating their clothing with the utmost care.

To contact the authors, please e-mail lisa.bonnema@cancom.com.


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