Step into Selfridges at the moment, and you won’t have to deal with the usual barrage of branding, the normal hubbub of fashion-hunters, or the yammering of people on their cell-phones. Or, at least, you’ll be able to avoid some of these modern-life pests. London’s leading department store (think something like Bloomingdale’s) has logo-less products, Headspace pods, and a Silence Room where the walls are soundproofed, electronic devices are forbidden, and meditation is encouraged.
“Celebrate the power of quiet, see the beauty in function and find calm among the crowds,” says the store’s website. And you can see the attraction. After traipsing down Oxford Street, London’s busiest commercial boulevard, the idea of a meditation pod is damned attractive, even for those not inclined to meditation. It might even be good for your health.
The limited-edition logo-free products are specially designed by Levi’s, Clinique, Heinz, Marmite, and Beats by Dre–and are effectively the same items, without the distinguishing markings (though they are still quite distinguishable). The meditation is provided by a social enterprise, Headspace, that’s “on a mission to get as many people in the world as possible to take 10 minutes out of their day.” And there are even lectures from a group called the Idler Academy. Selfridges calls it the “No Noise” campaign–though it’s making quite a bit of noise about it.
“We invited those brands that we thought were iconic to remove their logos from their products, because really these brands need no introduction,” says Allanah Weston, Selfridges’ creative director.
The store says it’s “an initiative that goes beyond retail”–which isn’t quite true. This is still retail. (In fact, you might say the “No Noise” thing evokes Naomi Klein’s No Logo, which criticized brands for appropriating ’60s counterculture to sell more stuff).
But to hell with it: At least, you’ll be more relaxed about the bill.