Half-tonne bluestone rocks from near Timaru are coffee tables displaying German designer lamps, a giant Japanese-designed interactive digital artwork reacts as you step closer and flowers and petals explode and the reception desk is African wenge wood.
Law firm Chapman Tripp commissioned interior designer Nathan Goldsworthy to bring the wow factor to reception on level 34 of the new $1 billion PwC Tower on the Albert St/Customs St corner.
"It's a giant law firm and you're dealing with people in power. It can be very intimidating but there's a balance between creating a sense of awe and being intimidated," Goldsworthy says, explaining his thinking behind the design.
Offices surround reception, blocking much of the natural light. Light diffuses and the view is hidden. Goldsworthy started out with a big blank canvas when he was commissioned to design the new reception.
"It's a very artificial area and I wanted to produce a sensation of being somewhere in nature with rocks and brass reeds, so you're sitting in something like a clearing in the forest or a hearth around a fire.
"I'm very wary of trends and I wanted to try to step away from what we might think of as New Zealand design because I think that's a trap. I pulled in references from the east, west, Europe and here. There's a very global approach," Goldsworthy said.
At the core of his brief was his desire to bring natural materials to the large space "nothing artificially manipulated", hence leather, stone, brass and the African wood.
The paper lamps were designed 20 years ago by Germany's late Ingo Maurer and are poul poul "so they could be a flower or a bird or a conch shell".
The reception area is a landscape of natural forms, framed by soaring sheaves of brass. The tall reed-like structures are restrained by blades of curved African wenge wood, which fold gently into a canopy to guide passersby, Goldsworthy said.
"The focal point of the space - a plateau of contoured timber - floats off its softly finished base and invites visitors to approach. Simple in profile, its form is detailed to serve the daily activities of the receptionist," he said.
In the seating areas, the palette is restrained, executed in hues of blue and bronze with a glint of stainless steel. Boulders of bluestone are a humble hearth to the exquisite presence of the back-wing chairs.
Each of the pieces in the space is bold and distinct, with the impression of permanence. The surrounding brass - and the distant layers of glass and water - bring a welcome contrast.
New Zealand art is prominent: Max Gimblett's The Art of Remembrance, Peata Larken's Patikitiki 4, and Emily Siddell's Lei in ceramic and glass and Laurence Aberhart's photographs have been re-framed.
Goldsworthy designed reception but Warren & Mahoney's Scott Compton designed the office fit-out. Visitors are greeted with an antique-finish floor-to-ceiling brass wall which then curves its way past reception and folds around invisibly into the office area.
Sophia Gunn, the law firm's chief operating officer, said that in early August, 280 staff had left levels 34, 25, 36, 37 and half of 38 in the ANZ Centre on the Albert/Swanson St corner where they had been for 20 years.
The move to just under 4100sq m of premium A-grade office space for an initial 12-year term with rights of renewal was dubbed Spaceshifter.
Same landlord in both buildings: Precinct Properties but Gunn won't say what - if any - leasing incentives were granted. But that's not unusual in the top-end commercial leasing sector.
Nor will she say what the designer fit-out cost, although it's clear the lawyers plan to be in the tower for many years, developing a state-of-the-art new dining/kitchen area through reception on level 34.
But she is clear about the fact that it was time to move and leave all furniture behind, some of it curved to fit the curved ANZ therefore inappropriate for PwC.
As is the trend, partners sacrificed old ANZ offices to go full bareback open-plan. Everyone gets more exercise: the law firm leased levels 33, 34 and 35, all are linked via an internal white staircase.
On average, staff have 16sq m/person. Nearly everyone is working five days a week in the new office, Gunn says: "We have a mix of people at home and in the office (but this is variable depending on client needs and can also vary by office but in Auckland we have around 90 per cent of our team in the office on any one day."
Staff with a height phobia can't necessarily avoid the dizzying view but they get their access cards programmed so they only ride elevator A without the terrifying glass wall, Gunn says.
Unlike say, Meredith Connell, these offices have no law library, just shelving on level 33 for journals and periodicals. Bound copies of Parliamentary debates, old criminal and law journals and books have instead become decorations in meeting rooms, placed in neat piles on recessed shelves along with other pretty objects.
Hardly any copying machines either: the office is almost paperless, Gunn says.
Six fully double-glazed "gondola" pods seat up to four and stand space-age-like on the floors. For quiet meetings: "I could be shouting and you wouldn't hear me," Gunn says.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei named rooms on all three levels, using Te Ao Māori gods or deities as inspiration. So Rūaumoko or the god of volcanoes dominates on level 35 and Tangaroa or the sea god on level 33. On level 34 near reception, Gunn meets us in Waipapa near O-Kahu and Taurarua.
One can see between the floors and a white passenger ferry hovering on the water, seen from level 34 looking down to level 33, is a strange vision, not a view many Aucklanders would have experienced.
"Those cruise ships, when they were in - it was like we could leap out and on to one of them," Gunn recalls, sharing the same sentiment of the view's otherworldliness.
The L34 conference room off reception faces north and can be divided into three separate rooms, its walls folding magically into the ceiling, allowing up to 150 people to gather in the space where gatherings have already been held. That is named Hikurangi, to mark it facing the sunrise and Gunn says the floors will be blessed by tangata whenua this Friday.
Oh, and that Japanese artwork: Flowers and People - Dark by teamLab, 2015, Hideaki Takahashi. A computer programme interacts with the viewer causing a continuous change in the artwork. Previously visual states can never be replicated and will never re-occur. Flowers bud, grow and blossom before their petals begin to wither and eventually fade away in a reflection of nature's cycle of growth.
The artwork is like the new offices: entrancing, beguiling, fascinating, a place you'd want to spend more time.
Gives a whole new meaning to going into the office, so lucky them.