Carter Newell

Activating idle assets at Carter Newell Lawyers

COMUNiTI has a long-standing relationship with Carter Newell — an award-winning specialist law firm in Brisbane. Ten years after our first engagement, we were excited to be re-engaged by the Carter Newell team to refurbish their office.



In traditional law firms, legal gravitas is expressed through design and aesthetic choices that could best be described as intimidating.  At Carter Newell, clients and lawyers experience a warmth that’s understated, welcoming and intimate. 

It’s an office space that delivers surprise and delight and elevates the client and employee experience. And, in a market where it’s challenging to attract the best lawyers and matters, Carter Newell’s workplace stands out as a competitive point of difference. 


On paper, it was a straightforward engagement: 

  1. create room for additional team members after a period of sustained growth, and
  2. incorporate fresh, contemporary aesthetics.

In reality, it was far more complicated and COMUNiTI needed to think strategically and creatively to overcome several challenges.


The floorplate challenge

Carter Newell is on the transfer floor of their building. The transfer floor is the point where the building’s structural system changes, and in the case of this skyscraper, it is where the low-rise and high-rise lift wells meet.

What this meant for Carter Newell was that around 40sqm of space in front of the high-rise lift area was considered unusable, and yet they were paying rent on it!

The space challenge

As a stable tenant of their building for more than 20 years, Carter Newell did not want to move to an alternative office space. However, they needed more rooms for client meetings, more offices and desks for their growing team of lawyers, as well as large spaces for onsite client events like cocktail parties or Boardroom information sessions. 


COMUNiTI needed to come up with a solution to offer more space within the existing floor print, which was already quite constrained. 

















Activating idle assets

Every square meter of tenancy space is an asset. Any assets that don’t have a purpose or are considered unusable, are ultimately sitting idle, and that means they’re not delivering a return on investment.

The 40 sqm of space in front of the high-rise lift caught COMUNiTI’s eye and imagination.

  • How do we activate this space? 
  • What kind of additional amenity can it provide?
  • What kind of experience can we create?

We transformed this vacant lobby space into an intimate employee and client café. 

We installed loose furniture and a removable rug to recreate an intimate dining experience so that employees could enjoy lunch together or meet with clients for informal conversations that didn’t require a private meeting room. This solution was not only a great outcome for team connection, but it also reduced pressure on the availability of formal meeting rooms. 


“It was a fantastic outcome to give the vacant lobby space a purpose
so that it could deliver a positive return for Carter Newell. 

Activating idle assets is an opportunity not to be missed when refurbishing office spaces, and on closer inspection, there are usually more of them across your tenancy than you’d think!”

Melissa Marsden, Founder & Director, COMUNiTI





















Moving from fixed to flexible

Being able to do more with the same takes a flexible mindset! Instead of considering all spaces as ‘fixed’, we worked with Carter Newell to think differently about the purpose of spaces. 

Flexibility meant we could increase the number of meeting rooms by creating interconnected and multi-purpose spaces. For example, we were able to easily reconfigure a big event space into four smaller meeting spaces through operable walls.

This solution allowed Carter Newell to do more with the same amount of floor area on their main client floor. 


Creating an experience 

In redesigning the Carter Newell reception area we delivered on function and form. It functions practically as a space where clients are greeted and wait for appointments with their lawyers. It also makes the Carter Newell client experience more memorable because we considered how we want people to feel in this space.

Do we want them to feel intimidated? 

Do we want them to feel that they are welcome, and in safe hands?

We created a welcoming space that is warm and inviting like a retreat, mirroring the aesthetic of a hotel foyer. To evoke these feelings we also chose softer colours than the strong reds and blues that feature heavily in Carter Newell’s brand, instead opting for desaturated tones of purple.  


“It’s such a treat to work with clients like Carter Newell who understand the importance of designing for experience. Experience design considers not just how spaces need to work on a practical and functional level, but also how spaces make people feel, think, and behave.”

Melissa Marsden, Founder & Director, COMUNiTI