Whether it’s noisy hair-dryers, blenders or garden strimmers, we are demanding products become quieter. A foundation called Quiet Mark is helping to put the silence back into products… and into our lives
Kylie Minogue fronted the Lexus ‘Shhh’ campaign. Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Our hunger for peace and quiet has always been with us, whether it is monks undergoing vows of silences or libraries encouraging readers to be quiet, but an increasingly noisy planet means it is no surprise that some are looking at loftier areas to find solace. A company calledInbloon and Zero Infinity are offering flights to near-space where private travellers can board a quiet, high-altitude balloon and experience ‘six hours of complete peace with the most magnificent views of our planet’.
Fortunately not everybody will have to fly through the stratosphere to find it if the ongoing work by a charity called Quiet Mark has anything to do with it. The charity awards ‘Quiet Marks’ that encourage companies to produce less noisy products whether they are aeroplanes, strimmers, hair dryers, food mixers or even musical instruments. The charity believes that the reason products are noisy is because it is cheaper for manufacturers to make them that way.
Actress Poppy Elliott is the founder of the company and the granddaughter of John Connell, the man who set up the UK’s Noise Abatement Society. She launched Quiet Mark earlier this year and is passionate about creating a quieter life for us.
“Life revolves around sound. It’s a fundamental pillar of our existence. The sound of a dripping tap can be just as annoying as a foghorn because it’s not necessarily loudness that causes annoyance, but sound quality.
“Our vision goes beyond noise reduction and into aural development at the cultural level, as we search for the most effective methods of reducing stress and embedding the quality of quiet into people’s lives,” she says. Such noble attitudes, however, need the support of companies to deliver quieter products. The car maker Lexus not only launched its ‘Shhh’ TV campaign for the CT200bh compact hybrid with Kylie Minogue but has also seen a trend for quietness among car buyers.
“Quietness is at the heart of our engineering philosophy and it appears to be an appealing feature to today’s car buyer,” says a Lexus spokesperson, who backs up the claim by revealing how its engineers listen to its cars’ engines ‘through a stethoscope’ to ensure that noise is at an optimum level.
Others are even more forthright when discussing their customers’ changing demands for quieter products as exemplified by Jamie Weaden, industrial design leader at home appliance manufacturer Kenwood.
“Historically the noise of products wasn’t as high on the agenda when it came to design of small domestic appliances. But modern consumers, including myself, now rightly demand products with lower and better noise quality without this requirement being reflected adversely in price,” he says.
Recent recipients of a Quiet Mark come from across all products sectors. Yahama received one for its Quiet Range instruments where potential musicians practise using headphones instead of annoying the neighbours and Philips picked up one for its Wake-Up Light alarm clock that arouses sleepers by light and not grating sound.
Quiet Mark’s Elliott believes that by taking little steps to achieve a quieter life is how people should approach the idea of living a quieter life.
“Humans have a strong emotional attachment to the reduction of noise in their daily lives, and there is now an understanding that quiet is a very desirable lifestyle choice.
“If we all start with small practical steps, such as choosing to ‘Buy Quiet’, our health, productivity and relationships will all benefit. We like to think Quiet Mark comes to the rescue with our latest high performance low-noise selections,” she concludes.
Quiet Mark may or not be the the cavalry coming to rescue us from a life of stress and noise, but it is good to know that while the upper echelons of earners can escape to the upper levels of our atmosphere for solitude, others have more down-to-earth ideas of how we can give peace and quiet a chance.
(By Monty Munford) Courtesy: The Telegraph