Last summer, when a couple of my friends down in Portland told me about their latest business plan to open a laundry lounge (complete with a café and environmentally friendly laundry machines) in the northern part of town, I was beyond excited. I get pretty excited about all of my friends’ business plans, but the concept of Spin Laundry Lounge was particularly intriguing to me. Crazy as it sounds, laundry holds a special place in my heart.
Part of my childhood was spent living with my mother in a small town in southern Montana. We lived in rental homes, which for some reason never had laundry facilities inside them. Trips to the local Laundromat were exciting to me as a child – a break in the routine, a small-scale adventure of sorts. Even then, I somehow appreciated the repetitiveness of it all; the long rows of dryers and top loading washing machines, the almost monochromatic color scheme of the white walls, yellowed linoleum floors, and stainless steel, visible through the large front windows of the storefront. We would haul our laundry across the icy street from the car and in to the small, dingy Laundromat. We’d hang out, reading magazines and snacking on vending machine fare, the smell of cigarette smoke and detergent lingering while we folded clothes.
One great thing about that Laundromat that I couldn’t appreciate as much back then, is that it was neighbored by one of the town’s best old dive bars. Looking back, I can only imagine how many loads of laundry were long forgotten at the bottom of someone’s fourth or fifth pint or shot. Unbeknownst to the owners of either establishment, they were on the verge of something great.
Spin manages to bring that dive bar and that dingy Laundromat together under one roof, except there’s nothing dingy or dive-y about the place whatsoever. See for yourself in the photos above. The place is a work of art. Aside from their lovely design, colorful interior, and smart branding, their washing machines will update you via text message when your laundry is done. So no matter how many pints you’ve had in the café, you won’t forget to move it over to the dryer. By the time the dryer is done, you can grab an espresso for the drive home.
As I grew older, moved out on my own, and became busier with things other than simply observing life as it passes by, laundry became more of a chore. And it still is. Owner Morgan Gary, her partner Anthony Fusaro, and a group of amazing friends have worked incredibly hard to make Spin a place that makes the chore more exciting/efficient/fun. It’s rare to find a place outside of the home where you actually want to do laundry.
I feel honored that my friends at Spin hired me for the task of photographing their space. Earlier this week, I loaded up the car and headed down to Portland. My good friend and mentor William Anthony came along with his Rolleiflex to help out and shoot a few frames. All of my best Portland pals were hanging out, which just made for an all-around great time shooting. I’ll be returning in April to shoot some more, but next time I’ll be arriving with a trunk-load of laundry, too. I think in a way, I’ll miss the linoleum, the potato chips, and the cigarette smoke…but I’ll have a beer or two and forget all about it.