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  • Writer's pictureAllan Evans


Updated: Jul 26, 2022

Commercial interior design requires a skill set that is different from residential design. The Golden Rules for Successful Commercial Interior Design outlines the key considerations that should be made when designing a commercial space. These include creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing environment, taking into account the company's brand and target market, and utilizing innovative technologies.

Commercial interior design is not just about creating a look that pleases the eye. It's also important to follow some golden rules in order to create a successful project. In this article we look at the Golden Rules for Successful Commercial Design that you need to keep in mind and follow across your projects.

Meeting room in modern interior design style office

What is commercial interior design?

Commercial interior design is the process of designing a commercial environment that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing and appealing to customers or clients. This can include everything from restaurants and office spaces to retail stores, hotels and dental clinics. The goal of commercial interior design is to create an environment that is not only visually appealing, but that also meets the specific needs of the business or organization. They take into account the client's needs and the type of business that will be conducted in the space. They also consider the flow of traffic and how people will move through the space. In addition to aesthetics, commercial interior designers also focus on space planning, which includes creating a floor plan that is efficient and meets all of the required code requirements.

What do commercial interior designers do?

Commercial interior designers are responsible for the design of the interior spaces of businesses and other commercial establishments. They must take into account the needs of the business and the desires of the client in order to create a functional and visually appealing space. Commercial interior designers must also be able to coordinate with other professionals involved in the construction or renovation of a commercial space, such as architects, engineers, trades people and other designers. Their work includes selecting and specifying furniture, fixtures, finishes, lighting and other materials; developing space plans; preparing construction drawings; and overseeing installation projects. They also work with clients to develop budgets, establish timelines and coordinate other aspects of the design process.

Who uses commercial interior design, and how is it used?

Commercial interior design is one of the most underappreciated and least understood areas of design. Despite this, it is one of the most commonly used types of design. This is because it serves a very specific purpose: to create a space that is functional, appealing, and safe for employees and customers. Commercial interior designers work with architects and engineers to ensure that the space meets all building standards and code requirements. They also work with furniture and equipment suppliers to select furnishings that are appropriate for the space. Commercial interior design can be used to create a specific atmosphere, convey a certain brand message, elicit certain behaviours, reinforce mood or enhance productivity.

Interior designer looking at office plans with sample boards in hand

How should the interior design of a commercial space reflect the company’s overall branding image?

The interior design of a commercial space should reflect the company's overall branding image. This means that the colours, textures, and overall style of the space should be coordinated with the branding strategy of the company. For example, if a company wants to appear innovative and modern, it would be best to choose sleek and contemporary furniture and décor for its office space. Conversely, a more traditional company might want to use classic furniture and warmer colours to create a more traditional atmosphere. It is important to keep in mind that the interior design of a commercial space can have a significant impact on how customers perceive the company. In order to make the right choice, it is recommended that a company ask its employees what they think of the space and why they like it or dislike it.

Residential vs. commercial interior design: what’s the difference?

The main difference between residential and commercial interior design is the intended use of the space. A commercial interior designer works with clients to create interior spaces that are functional and appealing in a commercial setting, such as a office building or retail store. A residential interior designer, on the other hand, focuses on creating inviting, comfortable and functional living spaces in private homes. Commercial spaces may also be designed to be more efficient and productive, with more open floor plans and work areas. Residential interiors typically have more personal touches and focus on comfort, while commercial interiors may be more minimalistic and streamlined. Both types of designers must have a good understanding of space planning, colour schemes, furniture selection, and flooring options.

5 rules for successful commercial interior design:

1. Start with the basics

Before you start designing, it is important to understand the basic principles of commercial interior design. This will help you create a space that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

2. Keep it simple

When it comes to commercial interior design, less is often more. A cluttered space can be both overwhelming and uninviting, so it is important to keep your design clean and streamlined.

3. Consider your audience

When you are designing a commercial space, it is important to consider who will be using the space. This will help you determine the best layout and design elements for the space.

4. Pay attention to detail

The details are what make a space truly unique. From the hardware to the finishes, paying attention to the details will help create a space that is both stylish and functional.

5. Work with a professional

Commercial interior design can be complex, so it is important to work with a professional who can help you navigate the process and ensure your space is everything you want it to be.

Funky and modern restaurant interior design

Top tips for a successful commercial interior design project

Commercial interior design is a highly specialised field that requires many factors to be considered in order to create an effective and functional space. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to commercial interior design, there are a few basic rules that can help ensure success. Here are the most important:

1. Start with a plan

A successful commercial interior design project starts with a well-thought-out plan. Define the scope of the project and your goals. The plan should take into account the specific needs of the business, as well as the constraints and limitations of the space.

2. Work with professionals

A Commercial Interior Designer who has experience in space planning and designing commercial spaces is an excellent start. They can bring in other experts and professionals to support the project as needed.

3. Get buy in

Make sure to get input and approval from all stakeholders involved in the project. This results in not only them feeling included in the process, but you secure perspectives and ideas that you may not have considered which could lead to a better result.

4. Create a detailed budget and timeline for the project

Think of these like a road map - they will tell you if you're on track and how far you are from the end.

5. Be prepared to make changes

As the project progresses expect the need to be flexible with your design plans. Few projects ever complete without changes. Expect changes to occur to avoid surprises.

6. Create a balance between form and function

A balance between form and function is key to successful commercial interior design projects. A project may have great appeal, but without properly functional elements, it could fail in the eyes of the business owners.

7. If in doubt keep things functional

If you have to choose between form and function, keep things functional. Functionality should be the top priority in any commercial interior design project. The space should be designed to meet the specific needs of the business and its employees, so if you get to a point where you have to decide between form and function, choose function but do the best you can with the aesthetics given your constraints.

8. Use colour and texture wisely

Colour and texture should be used to help create a sense of peace and tranquility in the workplace, or to reinforce branding and corporate messaging. Subtle colour changes can also provide visual interest.

Funky barber shop interior design styling

5 approaches to use in commercial design

Commercial interior design is often about creating an environment that is both functional and appealing to customers or clients. There are many different approaches that can be used in order to achieve this goal. Some of the most popular include using bright colours, creating a theme, and using natural materials. However, each business will have its own specific needs, so it is important to tailor the design to fit those needs. Here are five of the most common approaches used in commercial interior design:

1. Colour

One of the most popular design elements that is used in commercial interior design is colour. Colour is often a very important aspect of any design, and it is commonly used to help create a theme for an area or to help set a mood. Colour can be used to make a space more inviting and is often an important element in branding.

2. Theme

Theme includes the nature or industry type of the business - for instance office space, restaurant, dental clinic. The nature of the business can often determine the commercial interior design approach that a designer will take.

3. Functionality

Perhaps the most critical of all design elements is functionality. How will the interior space be used and what furniture and fixtures will be placed within it? Interior designers must also consider the flow of traffic and how customers will move through the space. Commercial spaces must be functional and meet the needs of the businesses that occupy them, so careful planning is essential.

4. Materials

Space design and planning is essential to ensure that once functional aspects have been determined, what materials will be used in fixtures and for furniture to support the space's function?

5. Client Preferences

Clients may have specific preferences which require top priority be given to them. For example clients may desire a specific image or impression be conveyed to clients or staff which needs to be reinforced by the commercial interior design style and fit-out.

5 approaches to avoid in commercial interior design

When it comes to commercial interior design, there are a few things to avoid in order to create an effective and visually appealing space. By avoiding these five design approaches, you can help ensure that your space is both functional and attractive.

First, be careful not to use too much of one colour or material. This can make your space look dated or unprofessional.

Second, try to steer clear of busy patterns or designs. This includes cluttering the space with too much furniture and accessories, or having a complex theme or colour palette. This can be overwhelming and make your space look smaller than it is.

Third, be careful with lighting. Too much light can make a space feel sterile, while too little light can make it feel cramped.

Fourth, pay attention to the flow of traffic in your space. You don't want people to feel like they're constantly bumping into each other or tripping over things.

Finally, make sure your furniture is comfortable and functional. You don't want people to feel like they're sitting on hard, uncomfortable chairs or that they can't reach what they need.

By following these tips, you can create a commercial interior design that is both stylish and functional.

View of cafe from the street showing exterior and interior style harmony

Seven elements of commercial interior design

Commercial interior design is a process that uses specific elements to create an effective and functional workspace. By understanding the seven essential elements of good commercial interior design, you can create a space that is both visually appealing and conducive to productivity. The seven elements are:

  1. Colour

  2. Lighting

  3. Space planning

  4. Furniture

  5. Materials

  6. Accessories

  7. Art.

Each element plays an important role in the overall design of a space. Colour can be used to create a mood or stimulate productivity. Lighting can be used to highlight focal points or create a specific atmosphere. Space planning can be used to optimize workflow. Furniture can be used to provide comfort and storage. Materials can be used to add visual interest or convey a message. Accessories can be used to personalize a space or add functionality. Finally, art can be used to inspire or create a sense of community.

Commercial Interior Design Best Practices

Commercial interior design is a specialized field that requires knowledge of both functional and aesthetic design principles. When designing commercial spaces, there are a few best practices to keep in mind in order to create an effective and visually appealing space.

The first is to understand the client's brand and what design elements will best represent it.

Secondly, it is important to consider the purpose or function of the space and how it will be used.

Once the function has been determined, the design aspects of the layout can be determined, and the interior decoration planning can begin with the selection of furniture, finishes, and accessories that reflect the brand and complement the overall design.

Commercial designers also need to be aware of building standards, legislation and codes to ensure the space is accessible and safe for occupants.

While many people think of commercial spaces as bland and sterile, with the right amount of creativity, they can be just as inviting as homes or public spaces. By following these simple tips, you can create a commercial interior that is both stylish and functional.

Modern office interior design

Key Stages of the Commercial Interior Design Process

Commercial interior design is a process that can take many months or even years to complete. The rules of commercial interior designing outline the key stages of the process as being planning, designing, sourcing, and manufacture/installing. However, the order of these stages may vary depending on the specific project.

The planning stage is where the designer meets with the client to discuss their needs and wants for the project. They will create a brief that outlines the scope of the project and what needs to be done. This stage is also where the budget is established.

The design stage is when the designer creates a concept for the project and begins to develop drawings, schematic designs, floor plans and design concept prototypes. This stage can take several weeks or months to complete, depending on the complexity of the project.

The sourcing stage is when the designer selects suppliers for materials and furniture.

The manufacture/installing stage is the final stage of the project when the furniture and materials are created and installed. This is where the designer makes any adjustments that need to be done to the design. The interior designer will work with contractors and suppliers to ensure that the space, fixtures and custom furniture is built according to the plans. Finally, they will administer the project through completion, making sure that all punch list items are addressed and that the client is satisfied with the results.


In conclusion, following the golden rules for successful commercial interior design will ensure that your business excels at making customers feel at home and is appealing to them and your staff. By creating a functional and attractive space, you can improve customer satisfaction and encourage them to return. Staff satisfaction and retention will also be healthier and productivity higher where this is the aim. With a little bit of planning and creativity, and a lot of help from expert interior design professionals you can create a space that is perfect for your business!

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Julie Evans Design is a Newcastle based interior design studio and creator of beautiful spaces. We service the New South Wales areas of Newcastle, the Hunter Valley, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens. Our goal is to make the potential of your space come to life, so much that it makes your heart sing when you're in it. Check out my interior design services, learn more about me or contact me to have a discussion about your space and your needs.

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1 Comment

Nifty Interio
Nifty Interio
Aug 21, 2023

Absolutely love The Golden Rules for Successful Commercial Interior Design! The insights are simply brilliant, leading designers to build places that are useful as well as aesthetically pleasing. Every design enthusiast and professional should read this!


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