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Commercial Interior Design: Design Phases & Consultation Process

What comes to mind when you think of interior design? Perhaps you see vivid images of delicate flowers in bud vases, perfectly positioned paintings on the wall, lamps and tables with clean lines, a modern couch with intricate pillows, and lighting that you instantly envy and want in your home. You're on the right track. While interior design certainly includes minute details, patterns with lines so sharp they could cut through glass, and space so aesthetically pleasing it would only be found in a magazine - it also goes well beyond that, believe it or not.

A designer meets with a business owner to discuss the phases of commercial interior design.

Whether working with a residential home or a commercial space, an interior designer must be familiarized with the building materials and finishes, and even be aware of how inhabitants plan to use the space. For example, an interior designer who is staging a home for sale will take a different approach than they would when designing the clubhouse of a private golf course. While the concept is loosely the same, the design elements, finishes, and the intended use of the space greatly dictate how an interior designer will fill the space at large. In this article, our design team will provide you with a guide to commercial interior design, including the consultation process and design phases.

What is Commercial Interior Design?

Though we've briefly touched on the differences between residential and commercial interior design, there is quite a difference between the two. Commercial interior design includes designing commercial spaces, including medical buildings, corporate offices, small businesses, retail spaces, and any other environment where business occurs and the inhabitants want the interior to have a wow factor that will win over customers or visitors. Beyond the design scope, an interior designer's job is a bit more complex and involved than a typical design project. For one, the designer will meet with the desired point of contact and begin with a design consultation. Additionally, the commercial space must be designed for functionality and allow business to exist in a user-friendly environment. In other words, while the space will be designed aesthetically, the designer has to bear in mind that the layout is crucial to both the worker's and customers' experiences. If the space is not functional or prevents business from flowing seamlessly, the success of the business can ultimately be impacted.

What are the Types of Commercial Interior Design? 

Commercial interior design can be utilized in any space that conducts business. This includes small, local businesses and corporate businesses. Below, you'll find a brief list of places that invest in commercial design to enhance the appearance and functionality of their space.

  • Educational institutions, including universities and colleges.
  • Offices, including government offices and corporate offices.
  • Libraries.
  • Retail spaces, including stores and malls.
  • Medical buildings, including luxury medical spas.
  • Industrial buildings, including data centers and administrative offices within manufacturing facilities.

What Does a Commercial Interior Designer Do?

The furnishings are key in a commercial interior design project.

The first step is to schedule a design consultation where the interior designer will meet with the main point of contact, such as the owner of the building or office manager. In this key phase, the designer will review the scope of the company, desired use of the building, and the organization’s business model. All of these factors, including the input from the person of contact, will greatly determine and shape the designer's efforts. This key step includes listening to the client's preferences and needs to determine the visual impact and design structure that will be implemented.

At SYH Design, our Greensboro-based interior designers work with clients to understand their workplace and make note of how the functionality and design can be improved to make the environment more enjoyable for all who enter the space. Next, we take measures of the space as needed and create a blueprint with conceptual drawings. Using specialized software, we will draw out all elements of the space which helps us convey to you our design plans. The drawings, often used by engineers and contractors, include the proposed final layout that will ensue from post-design implementation. Once our design team understands your space's functionality and organizational relationships, we can design a space that promotes an efficient work environment and a customer-friendly space that encourages business.

Since we are project managers, we will establish a timeline for our design phase and provide an estimated cost that is in line with your budget. Our team will also coordinate with contractors, as needed, when prominent design features, such as lighting fixtures, are installed. This ensures that your lighting and accent features (i.e. door handles, bathroom sink, etc.) work well together. We make sure our design work complies with building codes and safety regulations as well.

The Phases of Commercial Interior Design

There are five key phases of commercial interior design. Each phase will involve our design team communicating updates to you and your team. After all, communication and transparency are key to designing a space that needs your needs.

Discovery Phase

The first phase is the discovery phase. This is where we meet with your team to learn how you want the space designed and organized. In the discovery phase of commercial interior design, we can meet with the business owner, managers, stakeholders, and even employees to account for everyone's input. In the discovery phase, the scope and schedule are determined via our design consultation.

Programming Phase

The programming phase consists of setting a timeline with milestones and a budget. In the programming phase, we will communicate the dates that will estimate our design phases will be complete.

The schematic phase of commercial interior design involves choosing colors and drawing up a blueprint, pictured here.

Schematic Design Phase

The schematic design phase is where our team selects materials and furnishings based on the unique needs of your space. We use our design software to draw up a blueprint for your review. Once the design is approved by the client and consultants, we draft a contract for the design project. You may either request edits to the drafted proposal or sign the document it encompasses all your needs.

Contract Administration Phase

The fourth phase, contract administration, coordinate tasks and schedules with your contractors and engineers. The timeline and budget are reviewed and monitored closely in this phase.

Completion Phase

The fifth and final phase of commercial interior design is the completion phase. After construction and design implementation, our team will do a final walk-through of your freshly designed space and make sure you are satisfied. Once your space is open for business, we will schedule another evaluation to ensure all elements of the project function as intended.

Contact SYH Design, a Professional Commercial Interior Design Company in NC

If you are ready to re-design your current commercial space or are looking to build a brand-new building from the ground up, our interior design team is ready to assist. Our Greensboro-based interior designers are available to answer any questions you have and schedule a consultation based on your timeline and budget. We are happy to take on commercial design projects in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. When evaluating a design firm to manage your interior design project, it's important to choose one that prioritizes clear and frequent communication as well as ensures your design needs and wishes are being met. At SYH Design, we value communication and strive to make sure your business functionality needs are met through our design work. To schedule a consultation, please give us a call at  336-851-1351 or fill out our form below. We look forward to hearing from you.

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