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Design: Brand without Brand

Department store Selfridges has launched a Quiet Room for exhausted shoppers in its Oxford Street branch, complete with a Quiet Shop containing some impressive nods to the design of the UK’s most popular brands.

The shop stocks iconic products such as Marmite and Heinz baked beans, but with the brand name itself removed, as part of a public initiative to silence aggressive marketing and celebrate “the power of quiet”. What’s fascinating from a design perspective is that all of the products are still instantly recognisable, and the removal of the brand logo reveals a series of startlingly simple packaging images – something we don’t often realise when the item is covered in information!

The de-branded products are also available from the website, while the Quiet Room itself can be visited at any time during opening hours. A statement released by Selfridges upon opening the room stated: “When we first opened our doors in 1909, Harry Gordon Selfridge created a Silence Room where busy shoppers could ‘retire from the whirl of bargains and the build-up of energy’. We think we need it now more than ever, so are bringing it back as part of our No Noise initiative.

“Designed by architect Alex Cochrane, this reincarnation of the Silence Room has an insulated inner-sanctum, shielded from the noise and human traffic of the store.”

Visitors to the Quiet Room must first remove their shoes and any electronic items. They must also stay completely silent in the room, so as not to disturb others relaxing. Wide sofas line the walls, and soft lighting creates an atmosphere of peace and calm – as one visitor describes it: “I lie down on the soft seats and am left with my thoughts, which I find particularly difficult to switch off. But the muffled footsteps overhead begin to sound like raindrops. It isn’t long before I begin to drift off in spite of myself.”

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