Cubitts eyewear store in Leeds taps into seminal design movements throughout history

Cubitts store in Leeds by Child Studio with mosail tile floor and wooden cabinetry

London design practice Child Studio has combined Victorian-style joinery with modernist and art deco touches inside the Cubitts eyewear store in Leeds.

Cubitts occupies a corner unit of the city’s County Arcade shopping mall, which was constructed in 1898 and retains an array of original detailing from pink marble columns to mosaic ceilings.

Exterior view of Cubitts store in Leeds flanked by pink marble columns with gilded glass logo
Cubitts’ Leeds store is set inside a 19th-century shopping arcade

Child Studio was brought on board to design the eyewear store‘s interior with the aim of honouring the arcade’s Victorian origins while stirring up nostalgia for later design periods.

“New interiors within historic structures often fall into a pastiche or offer a sterile minimalist look that doesn’t attempt to engage with the context,” explained Che Huang and Alexy Kos who co-founded Child Studio.

Pink marble column and mosaic entryway of Leeds eyewear store by Child Studio
The arcade still has a number of original details such as marble columns

“We wanted to take a more subtle approach and build a layered narrative that would acknowledge different chapters in the building’s history,” the duo added.

“We tried to imagine how the space could have evolved organically over time, fusing the Victorian cabinetry features with the art deco elements and modernist references.”

Leeds eyewear store by Child Studio with mosaik tile floor and wooden cabinetry
Victorian-style display cabinets line the store’s walls

The store is fringed with three-metre-high cabinets featuring brown-lacquered bordering and different eyewear models displayed on backlit shelves.

A 1930s bakelite clock produced by British company Genalex, which used to supply timepieces to factories and schools, has been placed on top of the cabinets.

Lamp by Eileen Gray and Monk chair by Afra and Tobia Scarpa in Cubitts store
Vintage furnishings have been placed at the centre of the store

At the centre of the room is a bespoke service counter. Based on the writing desks popularised by British designer Robin Day in the mid-20th century, it features a black glass tabletop with steel legs nestled over a cherry-wood storage cupboard.

Next to the counter sits a black leather edition of the Monk chair by Italian design duo Afra and Tobia Scarpa, which was originally created in the 1970s.

A domed lamp by Irish modernist Eileen Gray sits perched on top of the counter.

Glossy chestnut-coloured paint covers the store’s ceiling, while tiles in beige, terracotta and umber have been arranged in a geometric pattern across the floor.

Child Studio said it incorporated the tiles to pay tribute to the tin-glazed ceramic detailing that once featured inside the County Arcade.

Glass displayed in backlit Victorian-style cabinetry in Cubitts store in Leeds
Tiles form a geometric pattern on the floor

The entire interior is visible through Cubitts’ ornate mahogany shopfront, which is inset with expansive windows.

Just above the lintel, the eyewear brand’s logo is rendered in gilded glass using a traditional technique known as verre églomisé, in which gold leaf is applied to the rear face of glass to leave a mirrored finish.

Glass displayed in backlit Victorian-style cabinetry in eyewear store by Child Studio
Glasses are displayed on backlit shelves

This is not the first retail space that Child Studio has designed for Cubitts.

The studio was also responsible for the eyewear brand’s branch in Soho, London, which features cheeky neon signage and a deep-red basement in reference to the sex clubs and adult cinemas that once populated the neighbourhood.

The photography is courtesy of Child Studio and Felix Speller.

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