JULY 20, 2021

Custom cabinets create ready access to critical legal paperwork, while keeping the interior professional and uncluttered.

When moving their legal offices to the historic Panama House, Hamilton Legal needed an interior that retained the building’s heritage features, while reflecting a contemporary law practice. Waikato design studio Designwell has used a rich materials palette to reference the old yet executed in a modern way through generous scale and simple, clean lines.

Office book shelves Office book shelves

One of the main design features is a series of cabinets made with Melteca Aged Walnut – beautiful bespoke bookshelves for the storage and quick retrieval of legal documents.

‘As Crown Solicitors, Hamilton Legal are required to maintain a lot of paper files,’ says Designwell’s Alexander Wastney. ‘Their previous office had open shelves for this paperwork, but we decided to conceal them for an uncluttered interior.’

Taking advantage of the building’s high stud, the designers created cabinetry on a grand scale using Melteca. ‘We needed a cost-effective product to reach the right price point,’ says Wastney, ‘and the new Melteca wood grain finishes look very authentic.’

The scale of the main pieces – 3.7m high by 3.5m wide – meant treating the surface both aesthetically and for sound. Perforated holes in the panels soften room acoustics and break up the visual weight of the cabinets.

The fitout’s Chief of Cabinetry, Russ King, says Melteca ‘ticked all the boxes as a product for this job.’ And creating the hundreds of perforations required some technical planning.

‘We were on the CNC for about a week cutting all the holes. Then the product had to be stained to hide the light-coloured MDF core. There is a dark core, but we chose the lighter MDF, as it’s more cost effective.’ King’s team dipped each panel quickly in and out of the stain bath, all carefully co-ordinated in terms of speed and time.

Wastney says this is the first project they have used acoustic holes at this scale. ’We had trialled the idea on a smaller project, but this was expansive.’ The result is a highly durable and low maintenance surface, at a modern scale and a nod to heritage to provide the aesthetics required of a top law firm.

Project: Hamilton Legal
Architect: Designwell
Product: Melteca
Photographer: Jeremy Senior
Writer: Folio
Fabricator: King and Co.