A PR firm emailed me about a Netherlands-based company’s new-to-the-US Tasty Colors collection of “kitchen must-haves in ‘foody colors.’” I might have just hit the toolbar icon of a trash bin with a red X on it but for two words in the email that caught my eye: ironing boards.
Do people still iron in this age of no-wrinkle fabrics? I’ll admit to having a tabletop board and iron, but it only sees the light of day once in a blue moon.
On my way back from a coffee refill, I stopped by the desk of Netherlands born-and-raised Managing Editor Eva Ditler to inquire whether she ironed.
“I’ll go to the dry cleaners before I’ll iron,” she replied so unsurprisingly to me that I can’t explain why I asked her — except, perhaps, for the fact that we both grew up during pre-wrinkle-free days. I remember my mother ironing while watching Edge of Night, Secret Storm or General Hospital and teaching me ironing techniques for clothes (obviously trickier than ironing sheets and pillowcases, which we did as well).
“Did your mother ‘teach’ you to iron?” I asked Eva.
“Oh, yes,” she replied. Hah! I knew it. Eva then told me that her mother loved ironing in the mornings while watching I Love Lucy. She also said ironing was a skill taught in her home economics class. (Incidentally, Eva did not call it a “skill” — and no wonder, because she confessed she was terrible at it, blaming the reason on her being left-handed: “I put more wrinkles in than I took out.”)
But back to the genesis of my revived interest in ironing boards. I clicked on the link provided in the email and went down the rabbit hole into the website of Brabantia. I almost got sidetracked looking at the colorful Tasty Tools. But my editor’s focused drive kicked into second gear and I zeroed in on …
Feather ironing boards, available in two stylish designs: “soft blue Cotton Flower or striking Feathers.” The boards offer “a user-friendly shoulder-shape for blouses and shirts, along with a pointed end that is the ideal fit for pants.” I’m not sure what makes this novel, as every ironing board I have ever seen has been so shaped. But I’m onboard with the child lock that prevents the board from accidentally collapsing.
As for the Titanic ironing boards, the company’s copywriter enthralls: “With a unique water droplet design, Brabantia’s Ice Water Ironing Boards feature a handy adjustable height allowing for full customization to fit your needs. … Designed for the more professional ironer, Brabantia’s Titan Oval Ironing Boards not only offer the same clever features as the Ice Water Ironing Boards, but they also benefit from an asymmetric frame which allows you to iron while sitting down for ultimate comfortability.” My gosh, it’s almost enough to make a person want to iron (except, of course, Eva).
In 2013, Brabantia introduced “ironing tables” with geometric (Brabantia calls them “Warm Mathematical”) prints it claimed “wouldn’t look out of place worn as part of an ensemble in a catwalk collection!” (See photo above and decide for yourself if you would make such a Scarlett O’Hara-ish move.)
In 2014, the Valkenswaard-headquartered company launched something bigger: a “vision” that it dubbed “Designed for living,” which undoubtedly is the underpinning behind Brabantia’s Autumn/Winter 2015 Collection lookbook (downloadable from its website).
In 2015, a series of ironing accessories (What? You need accessories, too?) became available. They include a flex guide that “keeps the flex out of the way when ironing” (What’s a flex?), an “iron store” so you can wind up the flex (Ah, this must be the word Nederlanders use for a cord; I’d ask Eva but I may have worn out my welcome this morning) and hang the board on a hook, and a heat-resistant cover that allows you to store a hot iron without waiting for it to cool down (Remember that time you were expecting dinner guests any moment and suddenly discovered a wrinkle in your apron?).
Before I concluded that I had spent too much time reading about ironing (oh, like the World Wide Web has never sucked you in), I took a quick peek at Brabantia’s timeline, which revealed that the company began in 1919 in the small Dutch town of Aalst by producing milk cans, jugs, sieves and funnels.
Among its judiciously selected milestones, the company calls out its 1985 launch of its “famous plastic corkscrew.” Now we’re talking about a household item I use more often than my iron. But that’s another topic for another time.