Forté interviewed Valentina Machina, former Senior Interior Designer and Associate Principal for the DLA Piper Auckland Office fitout, to gain insight into the vision for the project and how this was achieved - read the Q&A below.


Q: What was your vision for the DLA Piper Auckland office? 

A: The DLA Piper fitout occupies levels 14‐15 of the Commercial Bay tower in downtown Auckland. Front of house/client amenities are housed on level 15, with dedicated staff areas on Level 14. An intertenancy stair at the centre of the floor plate connects the two. The expansive floor plates and hard base building elements created the opportunity to introduce softer and more organic architectural elements throughout. The design narrative takes inspiration from the geological location of DLA Piper’s Auckland office, playing on the theme of Tāmaki Makaurau as a flowing city: the flow of water around the coasts, historic lava flows and the flow of people. The resulting space caters for changing employee mobility, with a natural architectural flow enabling efficient flow of work and knowledge. Much like cities are a network of interconnected and engaging precincts, DLA Piper’s new office is a series of fit-for-purpose spaces and unexpected elements, which, when combined, provide a sense of community and wonder.


Q: What were the needs of the client?

A: DLA Piper is a global law firm with offices in more than 40 countries. The brief called for a versatile, dynamic and progressive working environment that challenged the traditional law firm aesthetic. Enabling collaboration and knowledge-sharing was one of the key drivers. We wanted the design to enhance the strong collaborative and inclusive culture that is present in the DLA Piper purpose and values. The over-arching aspirational objective of all DLA Piper offices is to be recognizably part of the global brand, providing a similar client and staff experience regardless of the location. They have given the design team full freedom to modify common design elements to reflect a unique regional aesthetic, without compromising the “familiarity” of look and feel present across numerous locations of DLA Piper offices, further reinforcing the ideal of “Global and Local”.  Warm, natural and timeless materials palette promotes a sense of honesty and reflect DLAP values of confident collaborative and diverse global firm.


Q: How do you think Forté and the timber flooring help achieve this/meet these needs? 

A: To support the workflow we planned the floor plate to create zones that are filled with natural light, provide suitable sound levels with special attention to acoustics to support the change to open plan, and to ensure collaborative amenity whilst separated from focus zones is easily accessible to staff. Timber flooring is a link between the two floors and subtly and beautify provides the hints how the spaces can be used whilst retaining the familiarity and warmth of the natural materials. 


Q: What made you decide to choose Forté for this project?

A: A collaborative and trusting relationships between the design team and the client were incredibly important to us. When selecting materials and products we were looking for a design partner, not just a supplier. Forte demonstrated commitments to quality, sustainability and genuine interest in the best outcome for the client. The success of this project is largely due to these strong relationships and commitments. Having someone with the integrity, good track record and design commitment was crucial, hence choosing Forté  for this project was easy. 


Q: Why did you choose Moda Sorrento in Herringbone and what do you love about the range? 

A: We were looking for a timeless and elegant product that aligned with the overall design aesthetics. Rich colour and beautiful texture enhances the space and provides the familiarity, quality and enduring aesthetics. The range is sustainably sourced  with PEFC certification, low VOC and no added formaldehyde. This was important in our overall sustainability strategy for this project. 



Q: What has your experience been working with the Forté team?

A: Team at Forté  were exceptional to deal with. From providing multiple samples to assisting with site queries. We were very impressed with the service.


Q: What were some of the highlights of this project?

A: There are so many but for me was the bringing the DLA Piper team trough the fitout and hearing the comments endorsing what we have done. It was gratifying and highly appreciated.


Q: What were some of the challenges?

A: The biggest challenge was the completion delay of the Commercial Bay tower that influenced sequencing of the fitout build. But with a great contractor, Savory, we have overcome this to deliver an impressive fitout.


Q: Any other comments you’d like to make about the project?

A: The success of every project depends on the commitment of the teams working on it. We forged a close working relationship with the services engineers, fitout contractor, project manager, quantity surveyor, furniture, fixtures and equipment suppliers and material specialists like Forté .

Mark Scowen

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