More than a decade later, however, "Clayton Utz wanted us to challenge the client's perception of a 'stuffy' law office," says interior designer Mark Davis, an Associate at Bates Smart.
Originally, the reception areas were located over two levels. Now, there is a single reception area. "We wanted to create a focal point for the four levels," says Davis, who removed the spiral staircase and walls that once greeted clinets. "We've opened up the reception area to the views and combined with new lighting, colour palette and furniture. One of the initial problems was orientation. it was easy to lose your way.
The reception area is now flanked by high-gloss white walls and ceiling. A similarly reflective circular reception is positioned in the centre of two informal seating area. New banquette-style seating frames the windows, allowing views over Port Philip Bay. The reception, meeting rooms, conference rooms, boardroom, and kitchen are now all in one level, with lawyers offices, library and main break-out spaces spread over the other three levels.
Pear wood featured extensively in the original fit-out, so Bates Smart incorporated the same timber into new wings and corridors. "We've tried to match up the Pear wood as closely as possible. But we've also introduced Aspen (a blonde timber with unusual striations) in some of the meeting rooms," says Davis.
One of the main changes was to remove the plaster walls lining the perimeter offices. Now, with sliding glass doors, these offices have greater transparency. "You can see who is around, and those working at the core can also benefit from the light and views," says Davis.
Some offices were removed to create a large break-out space, complete with kitchen, banquette-style seating, chairs, and tables. "We wanted something slightly more edgy in this space,"says Davis, referring to the Blackbutt timber walls that form a continuous plane with ceiling.
While the new fit-out suits a progressive law firm, it's still quietly understated, allowing clients to feel familiar and comfortable. As Davis says:"It's a well-established law firm. And as with any other specialist area, the design has to accommodate our client's present needs".