What is it?
Selfridges has never been just a shop. In recent years we have seen a number of experiential installations from brands utilising the space Selfridges offers. In 2011 it was the The Truvia Voyage of Discovery, a boating lake and cocktail bar that lived on the Selfridges rooftop, and last summer the roof was occupied by Jellymongers Bompass and Parr’s crazy golf course. Non-Olympic sponsor Nike marked the Summer of Sport in the store with their House of Innovation experiential retail space, and for last September’s London Fashion Week, Mercedes and Bompass and Parr created the ultimate drive thru in the lobby of the old Selfridges Hotel.
Since then it has been a case of waiting until the next installation is revealed.
Attention on the store has reached new heights of late following the release of Mr Selfridge, the ITV drama focusing on the shop’s founder Harry Gordon Selfridge, with the first episode attracting 7.2 million viewers. So what better way to play on this wave of interest than by re-creating a concept Mr Selfridge himself launched in 1909? Over 100 years ago the Silence Room at Selfridges was born, and now it’s back in the form of a partnership with meditation gurus Headspace and the creation of No Noise at Selfridges.
No Noise is visible throughout the store with four of the shop windows designed by conceptual artist Katie Paterson, the Food Hall emphasising simple and honest food, and Headspace pods delivering meditative messages in all departments. However, the main focus is on the reincarnation of Selfridge’s Silence Room and the development of the Quiet Shop. Designed by architect Alex Cochrane, this inner-sanctum asks customers to leave all their 21st Century distractions at the door and escape from the hustle and bustle associated with modern-day high-street shopping.
While the Silence Room – a completely shopping-free space – is unexpected from a retail giant, it is the accompanying Quiet Shop that is the most innovative component of No Noise in terms of support from brands. Selfridges have in fact persuaded them to de-brand. Stripped of their logos, Marmite, Heinz, Beats by Dre and Levis are just a few examples of brands whose logo-less products are available to buy within the Quiet Shop. Selfridges too have removed their name from their own illustrious yellow shopping bags.
Why we love it?
In the month when everyone is trying to get over both the excess and expense of Christmas, and dispel memories of stressful present buying, Selfridges have created a pop-up experience that puts the pleasure back into shopping.
No Noise works on so many levels: it certainly has a PR stunt element which has led to its initial coverage, but this installation is not to be short-lived; running until the end of February, a plethora of shoppers will have a unique consumer experience that is sure to lead to continued press for Selfridges.
Although only a item that has recognisable packaging could get away with de-branding, by icons such as Heinz buying into this concept they are themselves gaining publicity, with many suggesting that the logo-less items will also soon become collector’s items. However, it is the Selfridges brand that is the ultimate winner, with the buy-in and support from so many giants of the retail world delivering No Noise the shout out it deserves.
No Noise at Selfridges does have many separate elements to it, but the store has ensured that focus sticks to the theme of de-cluttering the shopping experience. As we know in our industry, simple ideas are often the best ideas and what could be more simple than silence.
By Fiona Watherston on January 14th, 2013