Around this time of year, a coveted prize is awarded within a niche industry in Japan: the Laundromat-of-the-Year-Award (pdf). It’s presented at an industry fair in Tokyo known as the International Coin-Operated Laundry EXPO where excellence in laundromats are recognized within 3 main categories. There’s a top prize, a prize for best design and a prize for best user experience.
Top Prize: Hull (Hyogo Prefecture)
The prestigious top prize was awarded to Hull, a new concept laundromat the combines laundry with a hair salon. So you can get your hair cut while you do your laundry, which is pretty genius. It was designed by local architect Kengo Yagi with help from art director Azusa Kawaji, who was responsible for the signage and logo. Together, they created a warm and welcoming space that contributed to the laundromat’s recognition of top prize for 2019.
Best Design: Eco Laundry (Shizuoka Prefecture)
For best design, the award went to Eco Laundry, which is a chain of laundromats. But it was specifically their 4th outpost in the Aeon Town shopping complex that was recognized for it’s beautiful design that incorporates plenty of local cedar wood (known as tenryu-sugi). It was designed by architect Takashi Watanabe.