This is a concept of a washing machine that explores how we can improve our way of washing clothes while saving water and energy.
Valby is a hand driven complementary washing machine designed for a more spontaneous life. It allows you to wash and centrifuge smaller loads of clothes without electricity and a minimum amount of water.
The washer was inspired from the laundry system in Copenhagen, where it is common to share a washing machine between apartment buildings or wash in laundromats. With this system people dedicate a lot of time, energy and planning in order to wash their clothes. The sharing system has solved many problems but has also created the need to be able to wash more spontaneously, inside your own apartment and smaller loads of clothes.
The drum can be rotated into a vertical position making it easier to fill with clothes, detergent and water.
Pulling the cord in a slow steady motion rotates the drum and washes your clothes. This is the most water efficient mode.
The vertical mode makes it easier and more stable to separate the water from the clothes.
The water is drained by pushing the valve underneath.
The grey water can be used for other things like flushing the toilet or watering plants. In this way the water gets a second life.
The washer can be removed from the stand for easy maintenance by rotating the handle and lifting it.
Dimension and material
The washer holds 12 litres and is suitable for around eight t-shirts at a time. One wash with two rinse cycles needs around 10-12 litres of water. The capacity of the container to drain the water is 13 l. Valby is designed for a weekly washing cycle or for the moments where you only need to wash some gym clothes.
Washing journal - the journey of a garment
To understand the situation from others perspectives I invited people to follow a favourite garment. The person would follow the journey of one of their favourite garments as it was worn, stored, washed and dried. At the same time they were encouraged to reflect on why they washed their garment and how it affected other clothes washing cycle.
From these journals it was interesting to see how well we think we know our daily processes, but once we reflect on them they turn out to be something else.
The main insight from this probe showed that we wash many clothes unnecessarily often. A shirt that does not have to be washed gets washed just because it is time to wash and that we fill our machines too much or not enough.
When do we wash?
To understand what motivates us to wash, I created dialogue tools that would be of use to talk about our washing routines. The interviews was made in groups of two where the dialogue tools would help to understand each other, help remembering other details and also too look at their situation differently.
The main reason for washing is when the underwear is running far too low, the necessity of having clean underwear dictates when it is time for us to wash. We might not always actively think about when it is time to wash but we generally have a good estimation when it is time to Overflowing wash baskets causes stress and has a very negative effect of peoples living space.
Washing by hand
During the project I explored many different ways of washing clothes by hand. The hand on approach was also made to understand how the kind of quantity and frequency of wash cycles changes the washing process. To get a more objective understanding two other people also tried washing by hand and shared their experiences.
The main insights was that washing by hand makes sense as a complimentary method to washing machines in smaller batches. The biggest issue is to rinse the clothes from grey water and to squeeze the water out of the clothes.
Prototyping the concept
From the insights ideas were generated and some tested and developed as prototypes. The prototypes were made to understand the experience better and to develop prototype ideas that were promising.
The idea of having a drum that could be turned by hand in order to wash and centrifuge clothes was prototyped into a functional mechanical washer. From test washing with the prototype the concept was further developed to be able to change the drum axis from horizontal to vertical to make it easier to centrifuge the clothes, while maintaining the water saving benefits of washing horizontally.
The form of the washer was developed while exploring different shapes and dimensions. The main factors was to make sure the washer would have as little footprint as possible, while having the capacity to wash the desired load and maintaining a proper ergonomic working position.
The washer was also sculpted to be an object that would enrich the environment while being in the background, a form language that makes sure the person have a home feeling while being able to have the washer out at all times.