Julien Smith’s ‘Breather’ Supplies Quiet Rooms In Noisy Cities

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Julien Smith | Founder of Breather

Hi friends,

I want to introduce you to a friend of mine, Julien Smith, who

(a) wrote a famous and fantastic blogpost called The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck (a must-read if, like Julien, you suffer from “caring far too much about offending people, worrying if [you're] cool enough for them, or asking [yourself] if they are judging [you]),”


(b) just launched a new company, Breather, that will supply quiet, private and beautiful rooms to retreat to in noisy cities throughout the world. It’s a fascinating idea. Here’s Julien’s description from his new website:

Today is the day I launch the company I conceived of around a year ago. It’s a company called Breather. A company that I have been working on crazy hard for a very long time.

This is so big to me right now that I don’t even know how to begin, so let’s just do it this way, by telling you what I wanted to change.

◆ I was sick of walking around in cities everywhere, trying to find a place to go.
◆ I was no longer willing to have meetings in coffee shops, either.
◆ I was annoyed of having to take phone calls in the street, with sirens passing by me.
◆ I was sick of having to scavenge for electrical outlets when my phone was dying.
◆ More than anything, I wanted a place to rest.
◆ I’m an introvert– but a very specific kind of introvert.
◆ I’m an introvert who needs to talk a lot for work, who needs to meet a lot of people, and who needs to recuperate mid-way through the day.
◆ Starbucks wasn’t cutting it. Hotel lobbies weren’t cutting it.
◆ I’m also medicated for epilepsy, and I need my sleep. So when I was under-slept, there was nowhere for me to go.
◆ I would find myself wandering around in a city, practically ready to rent a hotel room so I could nap for a couple of hours and go to my end-of-day meetings or parties.

This is why I started working on private space, a long time ago.

I wanted space I could go to, anytime.

Not just space, but nice space. Well-designed rooms. Rooms that were quiet. Rooms I didn’t need to ask permission to get into. Rooms I could just go to whenever I wanted.

So that’s what we made. That’s what Breather is.

~ Julien Smith | What is Breather?

Want to join Breather? Click here to claim an invite.

(By the way, I don’t receive any affiliate commission or anything like that for posting this message. Julien is a friend, but mostly I’m posting this because I think it’s a very cool concept.)


What do you think about Breather? Is Julien on to something here?

share this Julien Smiths Breather Supplies Quiet Rooms In Noisy Cities


  1. David Bley on 12.06.2013 at 12:28 (Reply)

    I always thought that I wanted to join a gentlemen’s club as depicted in Sherlock Holmes stories. Not to exclude women. Anytime I saw one of these in a movie, they were very quiet. I am introverted and shy. I mostly like to be around people but am drained by interaction except for small groups (less than eight or so). I don’t travel, but if I did I would like the benefit of this kind of space.

  2. Samantha on 12.06.2013 at 20:01 (Reply)

    It’s like the Zipcar of naps! I love it.

    1. Susan Cain on 13.06.2013 at 20:17 (Reply)

      Funny, I think Julien uses the zipcar analogy himself!

  3. Candy on 13.06.2013 at 06:58 (Reply)

    What a great idea!!

  4. Steve Light on 13.06.2013 at 07:45 (Reply)

    This really is a fantastic idea.

    I have found it so difficult to find suitable quiet spaces in London. This will be a great resource for me and my members, thanks for sharing Susan.

  5. Shari Lawrence on 13.06.2013 at 09:20 (Reply)

    Exactly what I need.

  6. SGO on 13.06.2013 at 11:34 (Reply)

    As a child I would reside in cardboard boxes constructed as forts with a stack of comic books, candles(always cautious), pb&j sandwiches with chips, pillow and sleeping bag. Joy! Bathroom stalls now afford the respite and distance, just for those precious several minutes to recoup, I need at work.

    1. Susan Cain on 13.06.2013 at 20:18 (Reply)

      I did a version of this too — wrote stories in my “workshop” — otherwise known as, underneath the card table in the living room. :)

  7. Dana on 13.06.2013 at 11:43 (Reply)

    What cities do you start with?

  8. Janet S. on 13.06.2013 at 12:20 (Reply)

    I have often wanted to read or take a nap during my lunch hour. This would be perfect. Unfortunately, the invite request didn’t work for me.

  9. Peter Mond on 13.06.2013 at 14:20 (Reply)

    Great idea, we have been doing something somewhat similar in Israel for the last 15 years.Not in noisy cities but in noisy environments,such as kindergartens, schools, hospitals,homes……Am intersted in finding out more about the Breathing Space.

    1. Susan Cain on 13.06.2013 at 20:16 (Reply)

      Peter, I’d love to hear more about this!

  10. Marcie Lovett on 13.06.2013 at 14:45 (Reply)

    I have been talking about doing this for years! I thought of putting them in shopping malls. I’m so glad somebody actually moved forward with the idea.

  11. Melia on 14.06.2013 at 04:01 (Reply)

    This is an absolute brilliant idea. Do you know if it will be available outside the United States? Hoping to be able to use it!

  12. Alice Braham on 14.06.2013 at 04:04 (Reply)

    I had the same idea for a very long time but didn’t do anything with it…so…

  13. Sadye on 14.06.2013 at 08:48 (Reply)

    I find large cities to be draining (often exhilarating first, but always, eventually, tiring), so I think this is a great idea. Also, thank you for sharing his blog post — certainly something that resonates with me.

  14. Guest Commenter on 14.06.2013 at 10:08 (Reply)

    Just what a working girl needs… rooms by the hour.

  15. Fiona on 14.06.2013 at 11:35 (Reply)

    Truly great idea but being a very practical type was frustrated when I went on the website not to be told where you can find rooms - assumed only NY from the map image - and how much they would cost.

  16. Dorothy (former librarian) on 14.06.2013 at 13:50 (Reply)

    Don’t forget public & university libraries when looking for a quiet place to recharge.

  17. HannahTBanks on 14.06.2013 at 23:50 (Reply)

    Ok this is not about Breather - I think thats a great idea! But I just read “the not giving a fuck guide thingy” …and I don’t know - my heart sank a little… I guess it just feels like another trend to me. Now all the people who used to be afraid, or who were feeling stuck are gonna go around making their best fugly face on facebook. And feeling a rush for two seconds for being so un vain and then go back to feeling as lost as ever. I am most likely just being negative and giving into my “critical voice”. I know I “should” Share, Shine, Be bold and shit. But sometimes when I do put myself forward and think ah fuck it this is me ROAR…I actually feel like I should have waited a bit and trusted that my moment to shine was gonna come. I guess I am still struggling with this day and age where we are meant to feel cool about our lives being on the internet and we are meant to rejoice in endless selfies, hashtags and photos of peoples lunch. But I have an innate desire to stay ahead of the curve and I feel like a fraud when I follow some internet trend which already feels old before I’ve even uploaded. I dunno does anyone else feel this way? I guess sometimes it just seems hard to be truly authentic. Instead of following the new trend of being super duper unafraid honest person. I am not meaning to offend just wanted to share my thought.

  18. Alyxandria - Straight Up Talk on 16.06.2013 at 15:04 (Reply)

    Lovely! In Japan, some companies have quiet rooms where you can go to relax and be in silence any time during the work day. Japan is an introvert culture, in my opinion. Germany is too and I felt totally at home when I was there. There was silence on the streets, people only talked when they had something to say and they seemed to enjoy silence and solitude. Contrast that with the U.S. or many countries in Central America and you can see that some cultures are just more introverted than others. So completely fascinating. You could even do this kind of analysis within a country and you might note that in states like Colorado and Wyoming, the people are more introverted than they are in, say, California or New York.

  19. Tammy Brown on 30.06.2013 at 12:46 (Reply)

    This is one of the best ideas I’ve ever seen or heard about. How many times when I’m traveling on business have I needed a place that wasn’t a crowded noisy office just to gather my thoughts or work in peace and quiet? This is an idea that’s long overdue. I hope there will be Breather spaces in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC, too.

  20. Chrissa Reed on 02.07.2013 at 07:04 (Reply)

    This is a fantastic idea!
    I could totally relate to Julien’s reasons for wanting a quiet space (as well as being relieved it wasn’t just me!!).

  21. Mo on 05.07.2013 at 18:54 (Reply)

    This is a fascinating idea! I am stuck in a difficult living situation and so often need to GET AWAY for a little while for my own sanity. (Especially in the winter!) Coffee shops are way too noisy. Bookstores are crowded and often noisy. Libraries are either too quiet or too crowded or filled with homeless people.

    If affordable, this might work. I am eager to learn more.

  22. Mary H on 08.07.2013 at 01:26 (Reply)

    Currently I live in Homer, AK, population about 5500. I love living where it’s quiet, and equally hate living with unwanted noise. Even here, in this mostly remote small town, sometimes there are barking dogs, or neighborhood kids boisterously playing basketball near where I live.

    I finally gave in, and bought some of those ear coverings like are worn by people who work on airport runways. Rather than begin to get worked up, I just reach for them, put them on and experience peace and quiet.

    I wish I’d gone this route decades ago - would have avoided so much grief and anger.

    Like Byron Katie (Loving What Is) says;

    “When I argue with reality, I lose - but only 100% of the time.”

  23. J on 21.08.2013 at 03:46 (Reply)

    I hope Julien makes it affordable to students too. I struggled to find a truly quiet place whilst I was a undergraduate student in London. No place seems to be quiet enough, including the library!

  24. J on 21.08.2013 at 03:47 (Reply)

    Woops! It should be ‘an’ undergraduate!

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