Carl Laubman and Harold Pank opened a small optometry business in 1908 in Victoria Square. By the 1930s, it had become the largest retail optical business in Australia.
In 1934 the partners bought a building in Gawler Place formerly occupied by Harris Scarfe and set about remodelling it in the Art Deco style. Large building works were not common at this time due to the Great Depression.
The press noted that, "The present front of the building will be demolished and an entirely new elevation in modernistic style substituted. The work will be carried out in brick and white cement stucco, with large steel-framed windows, and coloured tiles underneath the window sills. Two vertical coloured neon signs, on both sides of the front elevation, extending from the first floor to the top of the building, will add to its attractiveness at night."
Laubman and Pank were highly regarded for their innovations in optometry. In 1927 they went on a twelve-month world tour as honorary commissioners of the State Government. Their mission was to research visions tests for drivers of public utility vehicles, ophthalmic standards, and the lighting of industrial buildings. A highlight of this trip was their meeting with Albert Einstein in Berlin.