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All About Commercial Interior Design
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How to design a workplace that propels success

When you begin a commercial interior design project for your business, you’re defining who you are — how you’re seen by customers, clients, and your own team members.

This is more than just an exercise. The interior design of your space defines the experience of those who visit it, which in turn has a direct effect on the success of your business.

The difference made by a design project can be felt immediately, yet its most important impacts are long-term. As you apply a compelling design to your place of business, you lay new groundwork for your company’s identity and growth. You begin to engage clients, prospects, customers, and employees at a higher level.

Learn more about SSP’s commercial interior design services, or contact us for a free, no-commitment conversation with one of our experienced commercial architects.

Beginning Your Commercial Design Project

When you start your commercial interior design project, there are countless details to consider, from overarching elements like color and layout, to furniture that creates the right flow and aesthetic, to infrastructure that supports the function of your space.

Look around. Whether you’re at home or work, every item around you was chosen for a specific reason. Each element has its own effect on the space it inhabits. The more deliberate and purposeful you are in choosing these elements, the more power you can create through the interior design of your workplace.

So, how do you make the best interior design choices? 

Start with two essential questions:

  • What type of business do you run?
  • What is the intent of your project in achieving your business goals?


Commercial Interior Design Categories

Approaches to commercial interior design vary by industry, with differing considerations for restaurants, retail stores, office spaces, showrooms, and all other types of businesses.

At SSP Architects, we do interior design for a wide range of industries, from office buildings, to bars and restaurants, to mixed-use spaces (e.g., retail and residential), and much more.

Each type of space has its own functionality, its own way of doing business with its customers, and its own way of achieving success. In addition, each has technical aspects (such as code requirements) that you need to understand before you start. 

Once you’ve begun, many aspects are obvious (restaurants need tables and hotels need beds). But there are also more subtle, functional elements to consider — like minimizing noise and maximizing cleanliness in a restaurant; optimizing for health and comfort in a senior living facility; or designing for creativity, collaboration, and productivity in an office space.

Work function and flow are critical for a successful design in any commercial space. You can also make thoughtful aesthetic decisions that set your business apart, define its identity, and elevate the experience of your customers and employees.

Intent and Scale of the Project

You might be planning to start from scratch or overhaul the entire design of your workspace — but if that’s too much right now (we get it), you can take smaller steps.

You can do phased projects like the design of a single room or the implementation of one key element (such as color or lighting) that will make a palpable difference in the identity and success of your business.

In these cases, you’ll also have to consider how you’ll balance your new project with the existing elements of your commercial space (whereas if you give your space a complete makeover, you’re working with a blank slate).

Still, a smaller project can have a significant impact on your business, especially in key spaces like conference rooms or “first impression” spaces like entryways and reception areas.

Fit-Out Construction

If you rent or own the interior space of a larger building, you may be looking to complete the interior design of your entire space from a shell or “white box”. This is known as fit-out construction, and it means you have a blank canvas to work with.

In these cases, you can do research and creative exercises to define the identity of your space. This is an exciting opportunity for your business and a chance to lay a strong foundation for your organization’s future success.


Now that we’ve defined the goals you want to achieve, let’s talk about the interior design styles and elements that will get you there.


You can look at design styles on a spectrum from traditional to modern. Traditional styles of commercial interior design focus on classic, time-honored elements that create a familiar feel in your place of business. Modern designs create a more flexible and casual look for spaces that want to evoke a feeling of innovation, of being ahead of the curve and offering something new.

MAYA — Renowned 20th-century designer Raymond Loewy coined the idea of MAYA (most advanced yet acceptable), describing how we are often most attracted to items that are new and exciting, while simultaneously comforting and familiar. So the most effective designs often blend traditional and modern elements, and your interior design may fall anywhere on the spectrum.

Within the spectrum of traditional to modern, there are infinite styles that can help define the visual and physical identity of your space. If the identity of your business is based in a certain place (like California, Italy, Egypt) or culture (like rock ‘n roll, mindfulness, tech) then the elements you choose are key in creating the desired experience for your business community.


Think about how customers and employees will interact with your space. What are they there to do? What actions should you encourage them to take?

Then ask — What aesthetic elements will create a feeling that encourages people to engage? What functional elements help facilitate that engagement?

Many items will be standard in your line of work (like shelving in a retail store or desks in an office space). Within those elements, you can make decisions to create a better experience and distinguish your business from others.

Colors and materials in designing a commercial space

You may include the colors of your brand in your interior design, but you can also choose other colors and materials that complement and harmonize with your branding. Alternatively, you can design one space within your workplace with an entirely separate look and feel.


Color choice will affect people’s perceptions and feelings about your business.

It’s human nature for us to respond to different colors in different ways. In general, warm colors like red, yellow, and orange evoke emotion and passion. Cold colors like green, blue, and purple are more calming and reassuring. 

Beyond those basic principles, the nuances of color choice are deep and complex, offering a world of possibilities. Within every color is a range of tones. For example, if you want to spark creativity and excitement, you can use bold and vibrant tones. If you want to present yourself as a company that does straightforward work for its clients, you can choose tones that are muted yet still rich and inviting.


Physical materials follow many of the same principles. For example, woods offer a soothing, natural feeling — and darker, sturdy woods evoke strength and stability, while lighter woods may evoke cleanliness and levity. Meanwhile, metals create a cooler, more modern aesthetic. 

Beyond their appearance, materials have practical implications. Wood is great for the acoustics in a theater, while vinyl and tile are easy to sanitize in a healthcare facility.

The way you match colors and materials is an essential part of visually distinguishing who you are, and it helps create the functional experience you want for your customers, patrons, and employees.

Tips for selecting furniture in a commercial office space

Function and ergonomics

Function is the first aspect of furniture to think about, because it plays directly into the way people interact with your space. Ask questions like:

  • How much time are people going to spend on pieces of furniture like chairs and tables?
  • Do you want your customers to have an experience of comfort, where they can settle in, or do you want to optimize for mobility and practicality?

When you answer such questions, you can most effectively begin to decide what kind of functionality and ergonomics you want from the tables, seating, desks, cabinets, shelves, display pieces, and other pieces of furniture you use in your interior design.

Spacing and placement

Once you’ve determined the function of your furniture, decide how much of it you want and how to space pieces around your workplace to best serve your clients, customers, and team members. Furniture can also define smaller sections within larger rooms, without the need for construction.

Furniture aesthetics

Furniture tells a story. From the pictures, movies, and places we’ve seen throughout our lives, we associate different kinds of furniture with different time periods, ideas, and lifestyles. 

Whether your style is traditional, craftsman, modern, or somewhere in between, your design goals can be enhanced through the careful selection and placement of furniture.

For example, mid-century furniture evokes a sleek, slightly retro feel. Modern furniture evokes a more timeless design that can give your business a feeling of progress. You can blend these styles with aspects like shape, color, texture, and materials to create the exact identity you want for the furniture in your commercial space.

Another important question is — how can we incorporate new furniture with existing furniture to balance our budget with our goals for interior design aesthetics?

The importance of good lighting

Natural Light

Natural light benefits our mental health. It can improve our mood and our thinking, in turn increasing the productivity of your team members. It can also create a positive experience that makes customers more inclined to return and do repeat business with you.

That said, it’s important to control the exposure of natural light within the space. Through interior design, we can use elements like specialized blinds or the color of walls beside windows, capturing natural light in a way that maximizes its benefits while minimizing undesired contact with people and equipment.

Artificial lighting

Electrical lighting provides a world of options for creating the feel you want in your space. Today’s LED technology lets you choose across the entire spectrum from “cold” to “warm” lighting (which can optimize feelings of productivity and focus, or of comfort and relaxation). You can choose direct or indirect lighting, and the spacing and placement of lights can complement the layout of your physical space. It can even guide the path that you’d like people to typically walk.

The “temperature” of the light you choose can drastically affect the colors within your space, and lighting controls can allow you to set the mood of any room. Different styles of lamps and fixtures, especially in restaurants and other spaces that aim for a particular atmosphere, can also play a role in aesthetic design.

Renovations & Alterations

Renovation means to renew, to restore, to revamp, to modernize, to upgrade.

If your interior design project includes renovations or alterations of your physical space, you have an opportunity to create an entirely new flow, energy, and functionality to the way people interact with your workspace.

When planning renovations, ask questions like:

  • Where do we want more open spaces to encourage freedom, communication, a sense of community, or collaboration? 
  • Where do you want to put up partitions that engender focus, productivity, or privacy? 
  • How should the physical structure of the space interact with the equipment and technology you use in your business? 
  • Where can we implement the most effective renovations within our budget?

We consider all of these questions when determining how to renovate your space to create the best possible positive effect on the performance of your business.

Other design elements

We aren’t done until we consider every element of good commercial interior design. 

Understanding materials, required maintenance, code requirements, and effects on the environment helps with many important design decisions. In addition, the overall color palette, style and appearance, function of how the space is used, integration of technology, and (most of all) your goals — must all be considered holistically and blended into one harmonious design that will take you as far as possible toward your business vision.


Our process is your process.

That is, we focus on creating exactly what you need for the success of your business. We’d rather brag about your success than about a “clever” design that doesn’t get the job done. With over 100 years of experience at SSP Architects, we’re here to give you a pristine, functional, beautiful, and effective design — one that achieves a real purpose for your business.

Step 1 – Getting Started

We begin by discussing your goals for success — by understanding how your business works and how you anticipate using your commercial space. We’ll then discuss the aesthetic and functional elements that will help create that success. After that, we make a plan for how to seamlessly incorporate those elements into the design of your space.

We work directly with you to ensure that the design is in line with your goals before any construction begins. We’ll also make sure the work fits within your budget — delivering the most effective and impactful design for the funds you choose to allocate toward your project.

Step 2 – Implementing Your Design

We’ll guide the implementation process and help bring your design alive.

With our Flexible Project Methodology™, we identify and manage all key aspects and potential barriers to a project, then we adjust to keep a project moving efficiently toward completion.

Our architectural design team understands all the needs of your project. Most importantly, we know that your project is unique, and we’re here to make it come to life in a way that embodies your identity and your daily goals for the space.

Step 3 – The Finish Line

Our team is serious about project completion. We work methodically, with intention, deliberation, care, and attention to detail. But we also work with drive and resolution.

A design that’s held up in the project phase serves no one. It means delayed progress and missed revenue for your business. So we’ve built a culture at SSP Architects that values moving forward, toward swift completion.

In the end, you’ll get a beautiful and effective space that blends your expertise with ours — creating the exact effect you want to have on your business community and helping to drive your company into a bright and successful future.

Get Started on Your Commercial Interior Design Project Today, with SSP Architects

If you have a vision for the place where you do business, make it happen. Bring that vision to life.

Professionals who take action — who are deliberate about bringing their vision to fruition — are the ones who create the most consistent and lasting success in this world. We know this from experience, and we’re happy to partner with you to make your commercial design vision a reality.

Quality commercial interior design can’t be done by just anyone. It’s important to find professionals who are trained and experienced in the field of commercial architecture and design. At SSP, we understand the nuances behind how each element works together as part of a whole, to create the results you want for your business.

Contact SSP Architects today for a free conversation about your commercial interior design project. You have a vision for your business’s future. We’re here to get you there.

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