In the UK, at least, business owners are beginning to understand that there is an underserved market that is eager for noise-free environments. While efforts to address this market may be driven in part by compassion, there is no doubt that a robust response by the buying public will make quiet hours de rigueur. Let’s hope the UK experience is profitable, because that may give incentive to U.S. businesses to design quieter spaces.
The article interviews Poppy Szkiler of Quiet Mark, which is associated with the Noise Abatement Society, a UK charity. Szkiler said that, “[i]t’s difficult to mount a campaign against something like noise that you can’t actually see. You need a positive reward system to encourage manufacturers to design quieter products.” So Quiet Mark, using a sophisticated testing system, “gives approval awards to encourage noise reduction in everyday household appliances.” Readers are encouraged to look for the Quiet Mark, a purple “Q” symbol, on an item to know they are getting the quietest of its class.
If you have seen appliances bearing the Quiet Mark in U.S. retailers, please let us know in the comments.
One of the fair’s jurors noted that “designers have neglected noise in interiors for too long,” adding that they fail to consider sound because they focus solely on whether a design looks nice. Most of the designs were in response to the open floor plans corporations have adopted as a way to squeeze as many employees into as little a footprint as possible, as a “side effect of this is that workers’ productivity is increasingly affected by noise distractions.” No doubt the cost of distraction hits the bottom line in one way or another, as the article states that there is a great deal of demand for these products in Scandinavia. One hopes American designers embrace the noise reduction trend sooner rather than later.
Rooftop Films is presenting “In Pursuit of Silence” for free on July 30th. “in Pursuit of Silence” examines silence as a “resource for respite and renewal from the sensory onslaught of our modern lives.” In keeping with the theme, “[t]he film will be presented as a special silent screening, with the audience listening to the film on headphones.” Click the link above for more information.
We would rather not. And Nigel Rodgers, a Brit with a mission, agrees. Which is why Rodgers has formed Pipedown, an organization that attempts to persuade retailers, airports, and other businesses to stop playing piped music in their public spaces. Read about Nigel’s campaign in Pipedown. Please.
Link via Quiet Edinburgh.
Man starts fire in apartment over neighbors having sex. So, what exactly pushed him over the edge? The defendant told the police that he started the fire “because his neighbors were having sex and making too much noise.” How much noise? So much that he decided that “he would rather go to prison and ‘get away from the noise.'”
We understand the defendant’s frustration while noting his lack of judgment.
Marks & Spencer (M&S), the “UK’s biggest chain store,” is “scrapping its in-store playlists after ten years in a bid to revive its fortunes.” They claim they aren’t cutting the music to save costs, but a version of this story in The Telegraph notes that “the chain stands to save tens of thousands of pounds a year as a result of turning off so-called ‘piped music.'”
This change wasn’t a spontaneous act of goodwill by M&S executives. Rather, it appears to have been sparked by the anti-noise group Pipedown, which “protested against piped music in M&S, and recently urged shoppers to convince the retailers’ new CEO, Steve Rowe to mute the muzac.” Kudos Pipedown!
And for American retailers, consider that killing the music in your stores might please your customers and save you money as well. Sounds like a win-win.
Death. I fear dying – in noise. An interesting article by Mai-Britt Beldam, who designs/manages acoustics in health care, about her father’s time in hospice, a Cambridge professor reduced to tears by a noisy hospital as he was dying, and her fear of dying in noise.
As this article on a study by staff in a Belgian intensive care unit (ICU) highlights, the noise levels in ICUs far exceeds World Health Organization guidelines for hospitals. While the article mentions “subjective feeling of noise pollution experienced by patients, nurses and doctors,” it fails to address more immediate problem with noisy ICUs, namely the interference with sleep and the effects of sleep deprivation on patients–patients who are in an ICU and clearly need rest to recover from a significant health event. One hopes that recognition of the problem will result in better study and more remedies for this problem than the “practical solution” offered by an ICU doctor, i.e., providing “earplugs or other ear defender devices” to patients.