Barcelona has become home to creatives from all over the world. The city has been lucky enough to attract Laundry Day founder, Victoria Ashley. Her approach to the Cannabis industry has given us a second opinion on how we perceive people who smoke. Laundry Day objects have their own unique design language, leaving your dinner guests wondering if your decorative pipe is an expensive glass sculpture. Her recent venture with industrial designer, Alvaro Ucha Rodriguez is a Stainless Steel Ashtray inspired by a European approach to smoking in public. Victoria popped into the studio in Gracia for a coffee and to check out our new SS23 collection. We caught up with her to talk about the success of Laundry Day, her love of calming nature sounds and what adventure lead her to start a new chapter in Barcelona.
View From the Passenger Seat a Playlist by Victoria Ashley.
Hi Victoria, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I lived in a small surf town called Tofino on Vancouver Island. The average age was 32 and 80% of the population are business owners, so everyone starts their own businesses and are super supportive. It’s really touristy, so in the Summer months you can make a lot of money. I started leather working with a friend and opened up a store called Merge, which was a studio and a storefront. During that time I got really sick and started smoking cannabis because doctors kept on prescribing really strong pain medication. Cannabis was the only thing that could help me with the pain and help me sleep. There was a feeling of shame around smoking cannabis and there were no nice lifestyle brands or smoking accessories around.
How did you get into designing smoking accessories?
I designed my first piece which was the Tanjun Pipe, which was a ceramic piece and sold it in my store. The material made it easier for me to source someone to get it made, which actually took a year to find someone who was willing to make the product for me. They were made in Vancouver and I put them on the shelves and got to hear peoples real responses. I learnt who my customer was through that and who it was appealing to. One of the most important elements was trying to get people to see cannabis in a different way, and for my products to be found in spaces that would appeal to you and I.
What is the meaning behind Laundry Day?
It’s Sunday’s. You have this day where you do your laundry, groceries and get your shit together. It’s a chill day for you, at your own pace. That’s when I like to smoke cannabis when I have the day to myself and I can take it easy. That’s Laundry Day.
Tell me about your new product, The Stainless Steel Ashtray.
I’m most proud of this design, it’s made in collaboration with one of my favourite industrial designers, Alvaro Ucha Rodriguez who is based in NYC. Through Covid I wanted to work on the brand identity of Laundry Day because I started the brand when I was 24 and I felt like it didn’t reflect who I am now and I didn’t feel connected with the brand. For the last two years I worked on rebranding, reflecting more of my values and where I’m at now. Through product design, architecture, art, sound and focusing a lot more on atmosphere and environment and the relationships we have with objects that we own. This product really aligns with these brand values. The design is inspired by the time in Covid where I spent so much time walking in public parks - in Canada and LA. The industrial materials really inspired me and objects that are really well designed, but often overlooked. I did a trip through Europe and the smoking culture is very different to Canada. You see all these badly designed ashtrays, cigarettes on the floor and ashtrays on the walls in Copenhagen. I wanted to create something that is an indoor and outdoor object, that people could gather around and might start a conversation. Working with Alvaro we brought our ideas together.
You were traveling around Europe, what made you stay in Barcelona?
I was supposed to do Paris, Copenhagen and Berlin. It was a hard time for me mentally, so I called my friend and I was supposed to be heading to Berlin the next day. She suggested I reroute to Barcelona, I had never thought about it before and visiting never crossed my mind. I changed my flight and had no plans or idea of it really looked like. I had the best time, people were friendly and I got a sense that there was a cool creative community and even though I was still a tourist it felt like there was a comfort in the city. I went back to Canada and felt like I couldn’t live there anymore and luckily I have Irish citizenship, but never thought about using it. I got up one day and just moved to Barcelona, knowing it would be sweet.
What was your inspiration behind the shooting collaboration?
The design, process, inspiration and materials is something I want to showcase in an inspiring way. When I talked to Diana Boier about doing something together because I love her work we spoke about colour and the feeling it provokes. She had a concept to work with dancer, Anna Viklund to embody the shapes and forms of the pieces and to give people a feeling when the watch the performance or see the imagery. Maia, who was styling the shoot pulled out the Can Pep Rey sweater and the dancer moved and shared in it and the garment maintained its shape and integrity.
Favourite place to smoke?
I’m a home body smoker, alone before bedtime.
Your go-to album to wind down?
I love meditation music with some nature sounds. I’ve also been listening to Lil Yachty’s album, Let’s Start Here - it’s a journey.
Where do you like to spend a Sunday in Barcelona?
I do the same thing most Sunday’s, I get a treat and a coffee in Sant Antoni. I also love going up Montjuic and reading.
Who is your biggest design inspirations?
Bruno Munari. He has a piece calle the Cubo Ashtray which our product is inspired by.
What is your approach to quality?
I began the production phases alone, trying to figure things out. First it was product, then packaging and foam inserts and bit by bit we have made changes. Now we have all cardboard packaging without plastic or foam, also working with materials like aluminium and stainless steal which are a little bit more sustainable in where we are headed. I really want to change our glass blowing production into Europe and metal products into the United States.
Laundry Day Campaign Images: