Commercial Interior Design

It has often been said that the key to a successful business is location, location, location. We get it; location is important. But even with the greatest location in the world, a business can easily fail if its interior is not just as well thought out. Interior design is the art of balancing functional needs and aesthetic preferences inside of a structure. After all, the purpose of a building is really defined by its interior, not its exterior.


A commercial building is one used for some sort of business purpose, such as a store, office, warehouse, or a restaurant. Just as there are many types of buildings, there are different types of interior design. Houses utilize one kind of design, while commercial structures have very different needs. We want these needs to be successful, but a successful structure does require a bit more than just location.

For detailed information contact Pritish Kumar Halder.

Function of Commercial Buildings

Interior designers design interiors. That’s obvious, but they need to do so in a way that enhances the basic function or purpose of a structure. A house is a space for living, so residential designs need to enhance livability. Commercial structures have a different purpose: they help businesses make money. How can an interior designer help a business make money? The interior designer balances the commercial building’s functional needs in terms of physical space and its aesthetics.

Commercial Buildings

Physical Space

When looking at interiors, we can talk about two main things: the use of physical space and aesthetics. Let’s start by looking at how interior designers can utilize physical space to enhance the purpose of a commercial structure. If the design of a house is centered on livability, then the design of a commercial building is based on usability. Space needs to be usable for both employees and customers in order to maximize profits.

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Designing usable space will change based on the needs of the building. An office building needs to fit multiple cubicles into a shared area but not pack them so tightly as to decrease productivity. A department store needs space for window displays, as well as space for merchandise, trying on clothes, and purchasing counters. Restaurants need kitchens, and the dining rooms should have enough tables to make a profit but not so many as to create an unpleasant dining experience. The interior designer is in charge of utilizing space in the most effective way.

A great example of this can be seen in the Terrace Restaurant of the London Zoo. Designers rebuilt the restaurant’s interior, changing the layout of kitchens, dining spaces, etc. The new design tripled the maximum occupancy of the restaurant, which now serves up to 10,000 people per day.

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This does have its challenges. Unlike the average residential structure, commercial buildings have unique infrastructural needs. Restaurants need industrial kitchens, department stores need elevators or escalators, and offices need parking complexes. In many places, like retail or food-service buildings, customers will only see a portion of the total space. Storage rooms and service areas need to be accessible to employees but invisible to customers. This presents some challenges when organizing the use of interior space but, when handled correctly, can greatly increase the effectiveness of the structure.

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Besides the organization of space, interior designers also need to worry about aesthetics. Again, commercial structures may represent unique challenges. Many places, like department stores, are very large, and creating a uniform aesthetic throughout can be difficult. Additionally, companies may have very specific regulations.

What does a commercial interior designer do?

Commercial interior designers interpret how a commercial organization’s business model, brand, and priorities will shape the design of the space. They listen to the client to understand their preferences and needs related to function, layout, and décor. This informs the direction of style, shape, and visual impact.



Interior designers must understand how workers function in their workplace and how each office interacts with other offices in the business process. An interior designer evaluates the space, takes measurements, and develops conceptual drawings that visualize the designer’s vision for the area that will meet the client’s needs. These drawings include representations of layout, color, and furnishings to accurately convey how the designed space will look when finished. They create the blueprint to plan for and build the finished commercial space.

More specifically, commercial interior design focuses on the relationship between the day-to-day operations of the business and the physical space. A commercial interior designer must understand how employees work and with whom they work to accomplish their objectives.

Light Control Strategies in Commercial Buildings | Pro Circuit, Inc


These office and organizational relationships determine the best strategies in organizing and shaping the space. It informs the best placement of teams and departments in the commercial space within the most efficient workflow and access to resources. Equally important, the space design must support positive experiences for the customers of the business. The design of the commercial interior space must be conducive to every user, whether they are employees or clients of the company.

Commercial interior designers must be effective project managers. They must establish the project timeline to ensure the client’s deadline can be met. They coordinate the work of the consultants who complete construction tasks, plumbing, electrical, and other features within the space to be installed. In addition to meeting the client’s timeline expectations, interior designers must manage the project within the client’s budget.


The work of an interior designer encompasses non-structural construction. This means the design does not involve the building exterior or alterations to structurally significant elements of the building that enable the structure to be free-standing. The work must comply with all applicable codes for design and construction, fire, life-safety, energy code, and other standards and regulations required for a building permit.

Crossdock Building No1 Phase I & II - Bosse Construction

The phases of design

The commercial interior design project often commences with a discovery or pre-design phase. This is a pre-determined period when the designer gathers information from stakeholders (the business owner, managers, employees, and even customers) to better understand how the space should be organized.

During this phase, the designer also works with the client to define the scope and schedule. Initial concepts will be developed to confirm that the designer understands the desired look and feel of the space, and to know how the company’s branding standards will influence the space. This research is critical to establishing the priorities of the interior design project.

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The next phase, known as the programming phase, focuses on what the client and the end user’s needs are relative to the scope of the project. Goals and a budget should be developed in addition to analyses of existing conditions of the commercial space, local code requirements, and other related matters

The schematic design phase generates preliminary plans, layouts, and materials selections based on the understandings developed in the previous stages. The design development phase encapsulates the final recommendations into the project design for client approval.

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In consultation with the client and consultants, the approved design will be represented in the project’s contract documents. These documents will contain minute details and specifications to construct the interior design as planned. For more information please visit Pritish Kumar Halder ‘s page.

Interior designers use specialized software to create the working and contract drawings that specify all elements of the space design, including the location of walls, lighting, plumbing, and other fixtures. Contractors and engineers use these drawings to complete the necessary tasks during construction. Interior designers often assist clients in hiring a contractor.

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Tasks and schedules

During the construction administration phase, the interior designer plays a significant role in coordinating tasks and schedules with the contractor and in monitoring for quality control during construction. They ensure the project stays on-time and within the budget.

After construction, the interior designer ensures that every task has been completed to the client’s satisfaction during a final walk-through of the space. Once the space is occupied and operational, the designer should conduct an evaluation to ensure all elements of the project function as intended.

Whether designing for a new space or renovating an existing one, a commercial interior design project is a complex and intensive undertaking with many budgetary and logistical implications that can be, at best, disruptive to daily business. VLK’s experienced commercial interior designers are always available to discuss your needs, and will be a critical part of a successful, well-managed project.