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Azure Magazine November December 2022 Cover: The Residential Interiors Issue

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Selfridges is getting into the meta moment, with NFTs and VR experiences. The high-end London retailer has just installed bright-orange pods by Sensiks, which shop-goers can step into and be transported – by shifts in temperature, airflow, light and smell combined with a VR experience that’s meant to “improve mood, reduce stress and in turn benefit physical health.” A lofty promise, but it’s one in keeping with the brand’s embrace, and coinage, of the term “feel-goodness.”

The multi-sensory pods, called “A Good Trip,” are complemented by other in-store programming under the theme of Superfutures. It includes the Super Self, a wellness-focused project selling both tangible products – like a beauty regimen based on ingestibles (omega-3 capsules and vitamins) – and salubrious experiences: shoppers can even book sessions with a sex therapist.

This feel-good energy extends to the life of the store: live DJ sets will fill the aisles with everything from “power-pop anthems to Balearic basslines and psychedelic-cosmic tunes”; and a Run Club, launching in March, will get hearts thumping through the retail mecca. If you don’t have all that time to spend in the store, QR codes on the streetside windows of the Oxford Street flagship let you tap into the program.

Superfutures, which also includes a podcast, follows on the heels of Selfridge’s foray into NFTs: As part of “Universe,” another ambitious project that includes an exhibition in its Oxford Street store, the non-fungible tokens are in honour of the work of Op Art icon Victor Vasarely, whose psychedelic gridded patterns influenced everyone from David Bowie to Yoko Ono.

Cell 6 of the Fondation Vasarely Tupa, 1972-1975 © Fondation Vasarely

Over 1,800 NFTs, ranging in price from around £2,000 to over £100,000, can be purchased with the use of a store card; the next two drops are on February 12 (a release of six unique Vasarely NFTs in an edition of 100) and March 12 (a half-dozen more). The project, which positions Selfridges as the “world’s first retailer to sell fixed price NFTs over the counter,” represents a collaboration with Fondation Vasarely and fashion house Paco Rabanne, whose Spring Summer 2022 collection is inspired by the artist.

Paco Rabanne SS22 runway show, featuring the Hexa Grace moisaic on the rooftop of the Auditorium Rainier III © Yannis Vlamos

This otherworldly set of programs dovetails with a nascent trend of retailers offering much more than what’s on the racks. Stores big and small are diversifying to introduce new services and functionalities, in an effort to lure shoppers away from online purchasing and back to their physical spaces. Some of their ideas are downright inspired.

Selfridges Brings Futuristic Wellness into the Retail Space

The London retail mecca is diving deep into “feel-goodness” with multi-sensory VR pods, mood-altering DJ sets and sex therapy.

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