Culturally speaking, I'm not entirely sure what the installation of a so-called 'Silence Room' at one of London's busiest, fanciest shops actually means. I know it must be important, because I'm not too sure I understand the point.
Considering the Silence Room was first thought of back in 1909 by Selfridges' founder, Mr Gordon Selfridge, I can't even accuse the concept of being yet another modern gimmick. Well, not entirely anyway. The room, designed by Alex Cochrane Architects, is part of Selfridges' new No Noise campaign. A trip to the website to uncover the essential ethos behind the movement revealed the following text 'As we become increasingly bombarded with information and stimulation, the world is becoming a noisier place. In an initiative that goes beyond retail, we invite you to celebrate the power of quiet, see the beauty in function and find calm among the crowds.' Right. I'm sure Buddha would be proud. To add to what is possibly the biggest meditation rip-off since CDs that feature nothing but dolphin sounds, the site also offers a silence-themed retail experience in the form of The Quiet Shop. Here, brands like Levi's, Creme de la Mer and Beats by Dre have launched products without any branding. Also, there are loads of dark clothes and the word 'minimalist' is bandied about like it's an early 90s design seminar.
Selfridges have proved that it is actually possible to exploit tranquility and accordingly, I feel simultaneously sad and entertained. The idea isn't so much the problem, it's the branding. I mean, call a spade a spade. If shops want to build places where shoppers can re-energise for round two and the homelesss can take a nap, that's fine. Just don't pretend your concept is any more intelligent than that.
Ah. There is so much irony present that it's almost too overwhelming. Maybe I need a trip somewhere quiet to unwind. Oh wait.