Singapore- and London-based interior architects, Shed, have once again teamed up with MEATLiquor for the fifth branch in Leeds city centre. Occupying 500 sq m, the restaurant holds residency at the city’s largest and newest shopping centre, Leeds Trinity.
Never one to follow the crowd, Shed’s concept truly stands out amongst its Trinity neighbours. Themed as MEATLiquor’s very own Working Men’s Club, it showcases furniture and finishes that are so outdated they almost bring about a sense of revival.
As with the other MEAT sites, the concept is always borne of location – this time paying homage to Leeds’ rich music and dance scenes of the Northern Soul era, which revolutionised club culture across the nation.
Setting up camp across two floors, the interior is unexpectedly edgy – a dramatic contrast to the clean and modern glass façade of the shopping centre in which MEATLiquor is housed. With a complete dismissal of the contemporary niceties of the building, the windows are blacked out with timber anti-flyposter panelling that runs behind the glazing.
A 4m-high MEAT sign looms over the entrance, saturating the first floor with the red glow now synonymous with the MEATLiquor brand. On entry, the customer is met by a dramatically narrow, double height space.
The Shop Widow bar denoted by large, red, fret cut lettering overhead is framed under a staggered bulkhead of corrugated iron and timber vinyl. Layers of materials, artwork and signage, meanwhile, evoke something of the streetscapes outside venues that were famous in the era of all night parties – Wigan Casino and The Twisted Wheel for example.
A dimly-lit staircase with walls clad in mismatched, aquamarine laminates and a clashing red carpet lead toward the main, basement-level restaurant and bar. This is the real focal point of the space, with a heavy influence from the characteristics and curiosities of a 70s’ northern England social club. The decor is not necessarily something that would be expected for the next off-shoot of London’s trendiest burger joint.
The walls and bar are clad in timber panelling, stained with a nicotine yellow wash. A worn parquet floor runs the perimeter of the restaurant, framing an inset of black and red marmoleum tiles. The main furniture for the restaurant is a mix of vintage chairs, upholstered in red velour and black leatherette, while the tables are a mis-match of retro zebrano, peppermint and off-white laminates.
Design agency ‘Ilovedust’ was once again commissioned to create the artwork for the 80m² illuminated ceiling; the polystyrene panels found in a traditional gridded ceiling are replaced with opal acyclic tattooed with a graphical mish-mash of 70’s club photos, gig posters and some new twisted MEATLiquor characters.
“Northern Soul, working men’s clubs and burgers. Does it get any better? From the off we knew that by combining these three ingredients, the outcome would be special and sure enough my favourite yet. Am I being a slightly bias northerner? Possibly,” says Matt Smith, director of Shed Design.