Silence is golden at Selfridges
The Silence Room in Selfridges’ basement is a soundproof and low light calming space. (Stuart Wilson/Getty)
A London department store in the middle of their winter sale might seem an unlikely place to find some peace and quiet, but the new No Noise initiative at Selfridges on Oxford Street has introduced an unexpected element of calm to the bustling retail space.
The campaign, which launched last week and finishes on 28 February, is the store's attempt to turn down the white noise on modern living through meditation, silence and an awareness of loud branding.
Begin by taking a 10-minute time out from shopping at one of the 11 cloud-like pods placed randomly around the store, which were launched in collaboration with Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk and creator of modern meditation enterprise Headspace. Sit on a stool, put on a pair of headphones and – depending on which part of the store you find yourself in – listen to a short meditation on topics like mindful eating (in the food hall), refreshing your relationship (in gifts) or fragrance appreciation (in beauty).
The celebration of silence continues at the Quiet Shop on the ground floor, where you'll find exclusive de-branded versions of recognisable products, including pots of Marmite, bottles of Heinz tomato ketchup, Creme de la Mer face cream and Levis red label jeans. Each of these collectables is exactly the same as the original, just minus the logo for some visual peace and quiet. Also being sold in the curated space are men's and women's clothes and accessories by minimalist ready-to-wear designers like Jil Sander, Acne and Maison Martin Margiela, whose products are logo- and fuss-free.
Ready to really chill out now? Head to the Silence Room, an insulated sanctuary in the store’s basement, to tune out the information, audio and visual overload we all face on a daily basis. Leave your shoes, phone, camera and any other electronics outside and enter the Zen-like space. Close your eyes, take a nap, say a prayer, read a book and stay as long as you like in the soundproof and low light room, which seems miles away from the chaos of the West End neighbourhood outside.
The Silence Room is a reincarnation of a similar space installed by founder Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1909, who intended his quiet space on the fourth floor to be an area where men could wait for their wives while they shopped. The brash American founder -- who is currently having his moment in the spotlight thanks to Mr Selfridge, a TV show based on his life, knew even then that silence is golden. He would have been proud that given the price of gold today, silence is now on sale at Selfridges.
Malika Dalamal is the London Localite for BBC Travel