Monday, January 28, 2019

Rome Journal: The Washing Machine of Tomorrow

Roman washers (photo by Francis Levy)
In your classic Italian neorealist film of the 50’s and 60’s you have your Anna Magnani type character, gutsy and outspoken, a survivor, washing her families clothes and hanging it out of the same window through which she displays her pulchritude. With such stereotypes in mind, many visitors to Rome may be surprised to discover the existence of lavanderias and lavasecccos where clothes can be washed and dry cleaned. Even more prevalent however is the Italian version of the washing machine. These items display all the ingenuity of Italian design together with its ability to perplex the user. They're  sleek objects that possess great style and unusual colors like gray, a hue that is nary to be found in the United States where almost all machines are white. Their doors with their elegant peepholes that look like expensive glasses also display the features one has come to expect in familiar Italian design objects made by Fiat or Olivetti. But that's where the honeymoon ends since once you have located your local washer dryer in the dwelling in which you're living, you're going to have to begin the laborious process of negotiating its directions which might compete with Marinietti’s Futurist Manifesto (1909) in terms of their millenarian insistence on avoiding simple explanation. Nevertheless the washing machine is where you're likely to find the Anna Magnanis of tomorrow along with anyone else who wants to get their clothes washed. No pain, no gain. No matter how difficult your machine is to work,  it will all come out in the wash.

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