Quarles & Brady’s recent rebranding as Quarles provided a finishing touch for the law firm’s Naples office, which has been transformed from a traditional, darker wood-paneled look into a contemporary, brighter design that better fits the firm’s nationwide clients.
Quarles engaged lawyers, staff and clients for input, which was provided to interior designer Pat Algiers, of Milwaukee-based Chemistry in Place. She’d redesigned the office before, as well as the 130-year-old firm’s other 11 offices nationwide.
Gates Construction worked with David Poorman Architect LLC and OFDC Commercial Interiors to complete the 17,000-square-foot renovation and buildout at 1395 Panther Lane. The first-floor buildout created a new reception area, kitchen and conference rooms, while the third-floor renovation provided offices with a contemporary look, including an employee hub, multipurpose room and collaborative spaces for meetings, training sessions and trial preparation.
“It looks a bit like hospitality, more so than a law firm, and it’s more universal than Naples because the client base is,” Algiers says of finishes and furniture. “The wood was used judiciously, kept for warmth, and the marble also was used judiciously, for a point of elegance.
“I chose white (paint) because it captures the bright light from outside and holds it … and if it’s not bright outside, it’s a universal color,” she adds.
The marble entryway is nonslip for unpredictable Florida weather. Conference rooms feature carpet tiles, so one can be replaced if a client spills coffee, and nonslip luxury vinyl tile flooring provides a quiet, work-friendly environment. Algiers kept wood frame doorways and a few walls, such as the main entryway, where warm wood panels flank the lobby.
“My job as the interior designer was to listen, ask the right questions and get the right answers,” Algiers says.
Before the redesign, client areas weren’t separated enough.
“It was a little awkward because attorneys were walking past clients in the sitting room, and we wanted to improve the client experience,” Managing Partner Benjamin Brown says. “We wanted to give clients an optimal curated experience because they often can be stressed out.”
The new design allows clients to park and take a short walk on the ground floor to enter the building and conference rooms without stairs. Clients are greeted, offered refreshments and led to conference rooms with opaque glass windows or electric blinds for confidentiality.
Office Manager Leann Miljus worked with 20 staff and 20 lawyers to gather input. “We had a contest and wanted to include elements from the habitat and community,” Miljus explains.
First-floor conference rooms are named after local sanctuaries and swamps, such as Corkscrew and Rookery Bay, and feature wood-framed nature photos by Clyde Butcher and Dan Cunningham that also are displayed in hallways. Third-floor conference rooms are named after palm trees, including Royal Palm, a large multipurpose room. All the building’s plants are live and native, providing color and a natural air filter.
Different tables (rectangular, round, square) and chairs (with legs or wheels, with and without arms) serve different purposes.
“The arms allow someone who is weaker or compromised to push their hands down and easily get out of the chair,” Algiers explains. “All those considerations were given because of the large trust and estate practice.”
The varying designs enable lawyers to match clients with the right mood. Algiers chose Brisa®, a faux leather that wears and feels like leather, breathes and is sustainable. The Tiffany Room, which features sterling blue chairs, has a more relaxed vibe than rooms with neutral gold chairs, a corporate look.
There’s a main kitchen and “Café Q,” where employees can eat lunch at a bar-height table, drink coffee and watch TV. There are refrigerators, microwaves, a coffee maker, toasters and a vending machine. A side door leads to a stairwell, enabling employees to avoid client areas.
The third floor was separated to accommodate practice areas, including commercial litigation, construction and real estate law, employment and health care law and tax and business law. Ergonomic workstations feature height-adjustable desks and fully adjustable monitors. There’s even an area for an electric typewriter and fax machine. The elevator once opened out to a reception area lobby, but it’s now a gathering area with a kitchen, beverages, a bar-height counter and abstract LED lights.
Quarles also offers clients the capacity to host group meetings—the Royal Palm is equipped with three large monitors that can be reconfigured for internal or remote meetings and continuing education programs. Cameras can be positioned to focus on different areas.
“Everything is on wheels so we can reconfigure this and turn it into a teaching area,” Brown says. “We wanted the most useful workspace possible.”