The Laundry Pile

lilas copy copyToday, we hear from Emma Rigby, about her work and event she has organised to shine a light on the social practices involved in domestic laundry. The event is called The Laundry Pile and is the launch of CSF’s Prof. Kate Fletcher’s new book Opening up the Wardrobe. Emma completed her PhD at CSF last year. Through the lens of domestic laundry, her research has explored how fashion design, resource consumption and sustainability are tied into social practices.

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While about as routine and mundane as it gets, laundry is often overlooked as an extremely resource intensive and polluting practice. It annually uses up massive quantities of finite resources such as energy and water, and in the process, contributes towards greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and climate change. Between 1970 and 2014 the amount of energy used to do the laundry has doubled. Beyond resource consumption, laundering can also be linked to solid and hazardous waste generation, air and water pollution including eutrophication, toxicity impacts and biodiversity loss (Bain, J., Beton, A., Schulze, A., Dowling, M., Holdway, R. and Owens, J. (2009) Reducing the environmental impact of clothes cleaning. London: Defra.).

The Laundry Pile has been organized to highlight the environmental, social and cultural significance of laundry. It has been organised with two colleagues Lizzie Harrison from LCF and Jade Whitson-Smith from University of Huddersfield and will be aptly hosted in a central London launderette. This is a multi-part event organised as part of London Design Festival and includes an exhibition on laundry,  a book launch for Opening up the Wardrobe: A Methods Book edited by Kate Fletcher and Ingun Grimstad Klepp and multidisciplinary panel discussion on laundry practices.

Looking beyond the everyday mundanities of doing the laundry, the exhibition explores some of the cultural and social messages that laundry practices help to reconstruct and reinforce. It brings together a range of work from a small group of fashion activists, theorists and researchers who have explored laundry from a range of different perspectives. It includes a mix of photography, garments, illustration and performance – giving an up close and personal glimpse into the secret world of laundry.

During the exhibition and book launch, one of the book contributors, Emma Hoette, will perform her method for exploring the wardrobe called ‘Daily Catalogue’.

The panel discussion brings together the viewpoints of experts and academics from a range of disciplines and institutions. Through these diverse voices we aim to outline current understanding of laundry practices in terms of meaning, impact, and intervention. It is hoped that this discussion will inspire potential collaboration and further research.

More details about the event here.