We’ve worked with optician brand, The Eye Place for over a decade, helping evolve their store design and elevate their retail experience.
93ft’s relationship with The Eye Place began over 10 years ago at their first site in Bakewell, Derbyshire. From there we grew along with the brand, designing and developing the original The Eye Place website, and designing and fitting out the new shops as Alex Kemp expanded to locations in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and then across multiple sites in London. The latest site is Towcester, Northamptonshire.
The Eye Place's strategy is to acquire old optician stores on the high street with the aim of both elevating and enhancing them, while keeping the essence of the community staple intact. We worked with Alex to ensure that the existing heritage feel of the Towcester site was preserved, whilst simultaneously giving it a mid-century twist.
The feel of the shop was to be luxurious - an experience that’s worlds away from an average high street chain.
Mahogany is a wood inextricably linked to luxury. Dark and heavy with a fine grain, it exudes gravitas and evokes images of stately homes bursting with antiques. As Mahogany is now on the endangered species list, we chose instead to use Sapele - a sustainable alternative to Mahogany that gives the same opulent feel. Sapele is also harder than Mahogany making it a great and long lasting option for high traffic areas.
Our in house manufacturing team created the enormous drawer unit and the tables in the main reception area of the store from this beautiful wood.
In the 10 years that we’ve been working with The Eye Place, optical tech has come a long way. We wanted to ensure that, alongside a classic look and feel, customers were reassured that The Eye Place provides the very latest in eye health technology.
We accomplished this by designing a large, round window in the interior dividing wall, allowing full visibility into the test room with its high tech machines and instruments, and giving an openness and honesty to the site. When the test room is in use, a blind is pulled down to cover this window, affording privacy.
The Eye Place also offers Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to allow customers to “try on” eyewear in a whole new way.
Using dark, heavy materials and bold colour choices, there was a risk that the interior could feel oppressive. We softened the space with the use of curves in the tables and internal rooms, creating pods that look and feel cosy and calm while creating a clear definition of purpose for the test rooms. We used interior brass light fittings to create soft pools of warm light, and created mirrored doorways to both reflect light and as a functional aspect for customers to view their new eyewear.
The Sapele drawer unit is one of the first things the eye is drawn to when entering the store. While the top “drawers” are actually storage cupboards cleverly disguised as drawers with the use of fantastic joinery, the drawers below, numbered and coded for ease of use, can be pulled open to store surplus frames. Stock that is sold online is also stored here, creating a flexible retail space which allows the business to pivot as needed and generate multi-stream income.
The frames being stored out of sight creates a pared down, minimalist look and feel which was in keeping with our aim to bring this design forward half a century, and moving far away from the busy, crowded look of many optician stores.
Sales of retail products such as glasses cases, chains and cleaning products are an important source of income, and incorporating these into the design of the shop was crucial. We designed and built a display cabinet with a beautiful Sapele veneer to create a quality touchpoint that meets multiple needs for both customers and The Eye Place.
Preserving the existing features of a building and designing around them to create a blend of modern and traditional is something that we’re known for at 93ft. We kept the period features, such as the beautiful wood panelling on the walls, and used materials such as brass, glass, reclaimed granite and marble to add to the mid century feel.
Every aspect of the design is elevated, with painstaking attention to detail seen at every turn. The drawers are lined with green velvet, reclaimed from theatre staging, and contain dividers to house the frames - an amazing amount of work that has been perfectly executed, again blending form and function as the ply contrasts with the Sapele unit exterior.
Staff use brass trays to bring selected frames for customers to try on. The brass, which will develop a beautiful and unique patina as it ages, is yet another sophisticated detail that adds an element of theatre to the customer experience.
As yet another way to separate The Eye Place from its high street chain competitors, we designed a VIP room towards the back of the store. With a feel akin to stepping into a Natural History Museum, this room contains a thick, one of a kind carpet created by Danish custom carpet makers, EGE, and beautiful, comfortable chairs.
Using our trusted expert cabinet makers, we created a bespoke cabinet specifically to fit the space, using reclaimed granite and marble. Featuring custom made sliding glass doors, internal lighting and drawers, with brass fittings, the cabinet houses the more expensive frames and displays them almost as precious artefacts in a museum.
We created the logo on the door by glamourising the word “eye”, putting it front and centre, totally unmissable as you walk through - yet another detail that adds to the sophistication and luxury of the store. This well considered window messaging contributes to the modern yet heritage look and feel of the store and the overall branding.
We used colour and shades to follow that modern heritage feel throughout the store, using paints such as Farrow and Ball ’s Mouse’s Back and Little Greene’s Spanish Brown - bold and strong choices that perfectly complement the brass details throughout. We have also used Farrow and Balls Old White on the ceiling and Studio Green on the skirting of the feature wall, as well as a Little Greene shade; Light Bronze Green.
Textured masonry paint in Green Smoke on the internal walls of the test rooms provides a visual treat for the eye and helps ensure stimulation of all the senses as the customer moves through the space.
These include brands such as;
- Grey Street Opticians, Newcastle
- David Inman, Sheffield
- Jones and Co, King Street, Manchester
- Seen Opticians, St. Anns Arcade, Manchester
- Clarke and Roskrow, Market Harborough
- Albert Road Opticians, Manchester
- Station Road Opticians, Manchester
Photography - Brad Matthews
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