Sisters Corinna and Theresa Williams have designed a laundromat in New York to include lounge areas and a coffee shop, as a welcoming alternative to other coin-operated wash places common across the city. Celsious located in Williamsburg, a trendy area of Brooklyn known for its cafes, bars and loft apartments. The Williams sisters – born and raised in Germany – manage the space themselves.
Laundromats, where anyone can wash and dry their belongings, are ubiquitous across New York as most apartments lack the necessary appliances. But they are often mundane and uninviting spaces, with nowhere to wait for wash cycles to finish, so Corinna and Theresa saw an opportunity to change this.
Previously a hair salon, Celsious features a double-height glazed front. Its ground floor is outfitted with a front desk, and an open space flanked by steely washers and dryers beyond. A staircase leads to a lofted area, with a series of tables and chairs and a small coffee bar in the rear.
“There was a mezzanine in the previous space, but it wasn’t structurally sound, so we ended up re-designing and rebuilding the loft cafe, which allowed us to maximise floor space,” said Theresa. This space, along with a garden at the back, provides users with the opportunity to complete other tasks or just sit and relax while doing laundry.
The duo credits Big Reuse for many of the shop’s details, like tiles on the stairs – some of which are original MTA subway tiles – and marble slabs. Another reclaimed feature is the cork backdrop above the dryers, which was taken from the original mezzanine flooring.
Theresa sourced a majority of the furniture herself, such as Arne Jacobsen chairs found on Craigslist, while other pieces are reclaimed or IKEA hacks. Celsious features light and bright tones to add a level of comfort to a place that is commonly thought of as sterile, due to the stainless steel equipment. A vibrant orange logo adds to this welcoming aesthetic.
Instead of stark white, walls are painted in a soft white or cream. The warm tones of natural materials like the reclaimed cork, and solid pine stools made from the shipping pallets, contrast with the washing machines. “The colour palette was picked to reflect that airiness and welcoming feeling we want Celsious to convey: warm yellows, cozy corals and clean off-whites are needed as a juxtaposition to our equipment’s stainless steel,” said Theresa, who also works as a designer in the city. “The theme was ‘clean’, but ‘friendly’.”
Celsious is also decorated with indoor plants. “We planted on top of our dryers to create a calming atmosphere that makes laundry day a lot less stressful than most of our customers are used to,” Theresa said. The duo explained that the laundromat’s name, although misspelt for dot-com rights, is a nod to their European upbringing. “We love the metric system,” said Corinna, who is trained as a journalist. “The precision, yet ease of calculating one-hundredth of a metre is a beauty.”
Users pay per wash, just like at a regular laundromat, but a free cup of environmentally safe detergent from The Simply Co is included in the service. Continuing this energy-conscious branding, the designers also chose Electroluxmachines because they are meant to be the most energy-efficient, coin-operated laundry equipment currently on the market.
Employees at the laundromat wear specially-designed aprons by German designer Inga-Lena, who also makes sustainable women’s wear produced in New York. Other innovative laundromat concepts are one designed like a nightclub with dim interiors and neon lights in Barcelona and a laundromat in Ghent complete with a cafe and hair salon.
Photography is by Pedro Beraldo.