Have you ever given hand dryers a second thought? British photographer Samuel Ryde thinks they're a thing of beauty and intrigue, and documents them in bathrooms all over the world.
Who knew that something so ordinary and instantly forgettable could offer such an interesting insight into some of the fanciest, grubbiest and weirdest washrooms. These evocative photographs, taken everywhere from Ukraine to Los Angeles, showcase the variety of design, and relationship to the environment. Some ooze nightclub sex appeal and dazzle; some a clinical sleekness; others a work-horse charm. The stories they could tell.
Samuel has brought his collection of intriguing images together for a new book, Hand Dryers, based on his popular Instagram account @handdryers. The series documents a stalwart of industrial design, an item so every day and prosaic, yet each one imbued with its own vitality.
"There is beauty in everything," says Samuel. "Stories are everywhere if you look hard enough. There's something special about the familiar, even if you look at it but don't see it. Knowing what to expect, even if you haven't ever been there. Bathrooms represent the moment between the moments, a chance to reflect, both figuratively and literally.
"A brief moment of purgatory, a rare moment of the day when you are forced to do nothing. Alone with our thoughts, a blank canvas. Giving life to this machine that we have seen a million times before, but never looked at. At once recognisable but forgettable. Giving it life, and then taking it away. The last moment in our brief routine that is only remarkable with its unremarkable-ness. To capture the moments we never knew we had."
A documentary photographer living in London, Samuel has an obsession with documenting the conventional parts of life we don't notice; his Instagram project @twelvethirtyfourpm is testament to this, an eight-year body of work in which Samuel took one photo every day at 12.34 pm.
Hand Dryers by Samuel Ryde is published by Unicorn and priced at £10. Go to www.samuelryde.com to find out more. An exhibition of Hand Dryers will go on display at the TM Lighting Gallery in London from 16-20 March 2020.