The Art of Law Office Design
The law firm of Davis & Kuelthau, S.C., has several offices throughout Wisconsin and wanted to make their newest in Brookfield, a Milwaukee suburb, a showcase of good design and modern technology. Vetter Denk Architecture, an award winning Milwaukee-based firm who designed some of D&K’s other offices, was given the task of creating a fresh interior within a fairly staid office park setting.
|A wall of Lyptus® wood and table of African mahogany complement each other beautifully in the main conference room of the Brookfield, Wisconsin law office.
The firm has done many high-profile residential and commercial projects across North America, working with a variety of materials, from raw panel products in a postmodern prefab house concept, to glass, steel, and of course, rare and exotic woods and veneers. The firm’s focus is on design that’s clean but not cold, and delivering an artisan level of craftsmanship no matter what material they work in.
“One of the main ideas right from the start was to create a comforting, serene feeling into the main lobby area so people aren’t overwhelmed or intimidated as they enter. Achieving this effect has a lot to do with the color palette, use of materials, and just letting the warmth of wood really speak. The muted properties of the slate floor, etched glass, and creative lighting help as well.” says Griswold. “We considered many of what you might call ‘typical’ species for a project like this – maple, cherry, and dark walnut. We also thought about African mahogany (Khaya spp.), which is one of our favorite wood species to work with. We had recently received a sample of Lyptus® in the mail, along with literature describing its sustainability advantages, and decided that this fit best with the firm’s design goals.
“They really wanted to use forward-looking materials, and the fact that three generations of Lyptus® can grow from the same planting in 50-years’ time really appealed to their desire to use sustainable materials. They also like the color and grain, which is quite rich and similar to mahogany. It was the first and only material we showed them, and it became an important part of the storyline of this project.” Strong horizontal lines are a major theme in the D&K space, first on the reception desk and echoed on the walls, coffee tables, and the etched glass used in the conference rooms.
“We wanted to use the Lyptus® in big, bold pieces,” says Griswold. “If you look at the layout, the main room dividers are a series of four wood boxes that march in a row through the plan. They’re actually thickened walls that hold technology, art, and storage space. They’re really more furniture pieces than walls, both beautiful and functional. “There are some pieces in the main conference room of which we are particularly proud. Two are storage units, built under each of the two windows facing the pond. They have drawer fronts of slatted solid Lyptus® wood, echoing the reception desk. The big Honduran mahogany table has integrated power and data concealed under flip-up panels. “This was a project where all the elements came together very well – form, function, and the mission of the client.”
Copyright© 2006 by the International Wood Products Association. Published by Bedford Falls Communications, Inc. and circulated to an audience of 20,000 architects, designers, distributors, manufacturers, and users of imported wood products in North America.