Will shoppers kindly shut up? Selfridges launches 'Silence Room'

Will shoppers kindly shut up? Selfridges launches 'Silence Room'

London department store looks to its past to reduce the stress of today
The relaunched "Silence Room" at Selfridges London flagship store on Oxford Street.

Digital detox or an unusual marketing ploy? Perhaps both.

To offer shoppers a break from technology and the stress of bag-wielding crowds, high-end London department store Selfridges has opened a "Silence Room" -- a concept dating back to the store's original opening in 1909.

Department store customers must have suffered from sensory overload even back then.

According to the store's website, founder Harry Gordon Selfridge came up with the brilliant idea of a room where busy shoppers could "retire from the whirl of bargains and the build up of energy." As an aside, many men call this "the pub."

Alex Cochrane Architects designed the 2013 reincarnation of the Silence Room -- a futuristic, minimalist meditation lounge where phones, shoes and noise are not allowed. It opened on January 10 this year. 

The room is part of the store's new retail therapy initiative called No Noise, which also includes multiple meditation pods installed around the store where customers can tune into a meditation session with built-in headsets. 

Taking "retail therapy" way too literally? More than 500 people try mass meditation for Selfridges' No Noise campaign launch. "We're all suffering from overload and we wanted to offer up a slice of silence as an experiment, but we didn't want to do it in a heavy-handed way," Selfridges creative director Alannah Weston told WWD

As a "de-branding" exercise in response to information and branding overload, Selfridges also opened the Quiet Shop, which sells products and clothing stripped of branding. 

Ironically, these "de-branded" Heinz bottles, Beats by Dre headphones and Jil Sander dresses immediately became collector's items. 

Selfridges & Co., 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB, United Kingdom; +44 800 123400; Monday, Wednesday-Saturday 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 11:30 a.m.-6:15 p.m.; style.selfridges.com

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