March 19, 2013

Picture this if you will. It’s laundry day, you have not a stitch to wear other than some dirty sweat pants and your ex’s favourite t-shirt. You’re bored, crazy tired, and all your friends are being just as dry as you. Feeling pretty bleak right? Well not for long, since we found the coolest laundromat known to man. It’s so damn cool we decided to shoot part of our UO spring catalogue within its walls…


Not only a place to wash those dirty rags, The Laundromat Cafe in Copenhagen is THE place to be when you want to hang out with your pals. Fresh coffee, smiling staff, quirky interior and a whole bunch of washing machines to get your business done. It’s owned by culture creature Fridrik, an experienced carpenter, traveller, fisherman, husband and father. Click that video up top there to find out more about the man…


Whilst out UO models posed about his store in some fresh spring fashion, we sat down with Fridrik and had a jolly old chat. Here’s what went down…

Could you introduce yourself?
My name is Fridrik, I am 45 years old originating for Iceland and moved to Denmark 8 years ago. I now live and work in Copenhagen.

Wicked. How did you start the Laundromatic café?
I started the café with an idea and it evolved. I made the logo first and the idea of the washing machines was based on the name. Laundromat, it’s a beautiful word!

What inspired you to create the Laundromatic café?
I have had cafes before; I like the atmosphere of it and the people. It has many layers, food, people, drinks, music and the look. I was able to build it myself because I am a carpenter. So yeah, that’s why.


How many cafes do you have?
I have three here in Copenhagen and one in Iceland.

What is it about Copenhagen?
There is a lot of creativity here, good style and also a lot of positivity. People are not afraid of opening shops; there is also a lot of entrepreneurial spirit if you will, in the air.

Why are there not a lot of chain stores around, but more independent shops and cafes in comparison to the UK?
Well, we are a much smaller nation. There are only five million people in Denmark, and 1 million in Copenhagen! So next to London we are just a minuscule. Size wise, you need chain stores to run through society to feed the masses in London. Here, you don’t need that. I think it is just a matter of size.


So, tell us about your own background?
I was born in Iceland and lived there for the first years of my life. I lived a little bit abroad and then basically decided to move out because I wanted to challenge myself a little bit and move to somewhere that I didn’t know. I did that and have never regretted it since.

What were you doing in Iceland before you moved over here?
All kinds of things, I worked as a carpenter, I co-hosted a TV show for 3 years; about architecture and DIY, I also worked as a sailor when I was younger. I have done all types of things. I owned a few fashion shops, rebuilt and sold some houses also some bars. It was a familiar thing to open up a café; I love the business because it creates so many levels of interests. So many layers…

Is that something that you think is in transit to your personality, to do lots of different things?
Yeah, also it’s a natural survival for the Icelandic nation. We changed from a peasant society in to a knowledge-based society in the past 50 years. That basically creates the need for a nation of 330,000 people for every individual to work in two or three jobs. It’s very common to have a few jobs in Iceland.


Is the café culture in Copenhagen big?
Yeah, it is! Everyone is going for the good cup of coffee, the perfect milk and the perfect warmth. People think a lot about it, they should because it costs quite a bit of money. I mean coffee is expensive and things are expensive in Demark. We have free education, free health care, high taxes. Therefore you pay a lot of money for a cup of coffee.

It seems to us that comes from a demand for quality, and comes across in the design…
Its true! If you are going to open up a café you need to have some baristas that know what they are doing. You need to be able to offer your guests something that is pleasant for the eye. Anybody can open up a container café where you just have a space with some added architecture. Go to a catalogue and you buy the French look, or the English pub look, or whatever! There are thousands in the world, and then you have yet another Parisian looking café. You need to do something special, do whatever, add washing machines and make a flower shop within your shop.


What do you look for in staff?
I look for people who can smile with their eyes, I want people who are kind. I can teach you to make good coffee but I cannot teach you to smile with your eyes.

That is a beautiful phrase. Do people really do their laundry here?
Totally! It’s totally boring to look at your jeans go round and around for an hour, and then back in the dryer for an hour, it’s boring! Why not have a cup of coffee or a nice burger and meet with your friend who is also doing their laundry?

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like going to museums, a lot of my ideas jump at me from art. I like all types of museums, science museum; I also like to look at old cars… all kinds of strange things! I go on long walks, not leave my bed and wear my pajamas, basically being totally white trash in the bed all day long with both my daughters and my wife doing absolutely nothing. I think that everybody should spend at least 2 days month never going out of the house. There’s nothing-white trash about it, its just necessary.


We have been to your office; you have a great collection of bikes and things.
I am a collector, yes, I’m a hunter-gatherer kind of type. When my wife heard about me buying a 140 square meter office, she was ecstatic because I could then move out all that was work related and all my small collections. They include collections such as toys, blue porcelain, oil paintings and all kinds of strange things.

Can you tell us about some of your favourite places in Copenhagen?
I like the churchyards, I like names and I also like to get names from tombstones. People use Churchyards here in Copenhagen, in the summer time to go out sunbathing, which is quite nice. It’s like a public park, its beautiful. You get all the colours and different names and I also get a lot of ideas there. So yeah I like that!

Also I like the parks in Copenhagen, which are like the green spots of the city. You have them all over and people use them extremely well actually, thousands of people are sunbathing there or playing football or whatever. I love that!


You seem like you live your life very instinctively?
Yes, always have. I think its better to take the wrong decision then move on than to not take the decision and put everything on pause for three weeks. Then you lose the learning process.

Finally, what is the best thing that anyone has ever given to you?
My wife gave me two children, and I have to say that is the best gift ever. Second place is the big Tin Tin rocket that I have at home, the biggest one! I cherish that very much.


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