When designing for commercial spaces, the needs are quite a bit different than when working with residential spaces. While some of the requirements may overlap, they must be conceived in a completely different way. From functionality, to materials, to ambiance, here are a few things to consider when creating commercial projects, regardless of industry.
What should one prioritize, when designing a commercial space?
Divisions and Privacy
No matter what the aim of the space is, it will most likely require divisions and privacy to some extent. A floor plan is essential in this regard, because it helps to plan the way the space will be utilized in the most logical way. Smart floor plan allows maximum efficiency and drives commerciality.
Partitions can visually separate the space for the sake of convenience, functionality, or even design. The sense of privacy can be achieved with creative solutions in a small or otherwise public space. Changing rooms in a shop, bathrooms in a restaurant, or a conference room in an office are examples of such private spaces within a larger commercial space.
Solid, opaque materials can be used to create a space for total privacy. Divisions can also be less harsh or less permanent, depending on the space and their function. Glass walls, curtains, bookcases, wooden or metal storage divisions, or even natural divisions such as plants, can work beautifully in a multitude of spaces, from offices to restaurants, to retail spaces.
Ambiance and Brand image
The way a space is designed can set a certain ambiance that dictates the way people feel, whether that’s employees in an office or customers in a shop. The ambiance created must be very deliberate, especially in commercial spaces, because it can make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful space.
Businesses will strive to create an ambiance that is in keeping with their brand ethos and personality – that can be calm, energetic, upbeat, laid back, etc., depending on the aim of the space, the people populating it, and the target customer. A skateboard shop for teen boys, for example, may adopt an urban, industrial look with low lighting that feels “cool”, while a hotel lobby may strive to appear inviting with a cosy design that utilizes a warm colour palette, rich fabrics, and beautiful artwork.
Functionality and Materials
Functionality and practicality are extremely important with commercial design, because the space is limited. It needs to work for the purpose of the business. That means that while it does need to be aesthetically appealing, functionality needs to be the main priority.
That can be anything, from ensuring that there is adequate space to carry out daily operations to making sure that the space works for long-term use. Providing adequate seating, both in number and comfort, lighting the space according to the needs of the employees and/or customers, making sufficient storage available (particularly for retail spaces), ensuring the presence of the appropriate machinery for the tasks required – all these aspects pertain to the functionality of the space.
Materials should be durable and suitable for the purpose of the commercial space. They typically call for use of wood, ceramic tile, concrete, marble, drywall or glass. Recycled and sustainable materials such as bamboo, wooden pallets, or other reclaimed or reused materials are also being used more and more, especially in shops. Soft furnishings also differ based on the purpose of the space: comfortable, practical, and durable carpeting is often seen in offices and hotel lobbies, but it is absent from spas, most shops, and even usually from restaurants or coffee shops.
Commercial Design for Different Spaces
Here are some ideas for a few different commercial spaces and their various needs.
Designing an Office
The space is typically utilized to its maximum potential. Depending on the company, with numerous different purposes and clearly defined spaces. From cubicles to hot desks, from concentration rooms, to play and recreation areas, etc. A different mood is established for each space via use of materials and colours. For example, play rooms will be bright and colourful. Rest areas will focus on soft furnishings and seating. Designated work areas need a certain degree of privacy and few distractions, so a neutral colour palette works best. Layout can vary based on the industry and needs. ViewSonic listed last year workplace design trends for boosting employee engagement.
As important as the visual design is, we must not forget practicality. We recommend to use professional specialist in order to achieve the right ergonomics and lighting in any commercial office space. We are available for consultation.
Designing a Coffee Shop
Coffee shops are typically designed to be warm, inviting, and upbeat spaces. They are meant to draw customers in, and persuade them to purchase and linger. For that, warm, cozy materials are used, quite often paired with earthy tones – the intention is to give it an easy, comfortable, casual ambiance. At the same time, these materials are typically not overly fussy and must be easy to clean, because of the high turnover and inherent wear and tear that this space will see.
The space should, of course, be utilized to its maximum capacity with clever seating solutions. Aim is to welcome as many customers as possible, while still allowing some privacy by not overcrowding the space. This is where divisions come into play – a wall or half-wall, even made of glass, can create that separation and create a sense of privacy in a small, busy space.
Designing a Clothing Store
The design of a clothing store typically depends on the target customer, the niche, and the price bracket. A shop that carries a large variety of merchandise may opt for a fun, colorful, upbeat design with the ambiance focused on fitting as much product on the shelves as possible. A luxury boutique on the other hand, usually aims to create an exclusive, opulent, distant ambiance in a space that is sparsely decorated and populated. The materials used are usually reflecting the brand image.
Floor plan has to be clever and commercial and invite the potential clients to spend more. Space dividers may be utilized sparingly to delineate different areas in the shop. The transition still has to feel organic and seamless. Vend gathered quite well in their article, the store floor plans 101. Ambiance can be created with music, lighting and subtle accessories to suit the style and niche of the store.
Designing a Spa
Customers visit spas usually for relaxation, so such a space needs to express that through their design. Material and color-wise, spas can come across as quite impersonal and almost clinical, due to their nature. This is a design choice that partially contributes to atmosphere, but it’s also necessary from a functional point of view. The cleanliness is vital. That translates to a lot of tile work, wood, bamboo, marble and occasional stone. The space should “flow” well for client’s convenience. All separate functions should be united with a clever space planning making the experience enjoyable for the client, but also to allow maximum capacity.
Lighting is particularly important in these spaces. It helps induce that state of calm and relaxation, so bright lighting has no place here. Instead, dimmed lighting is preferred to establish the right atmosphere, as well as candles, for a subtle touch.
Dermascope Magazine highlights 10 important things to consider for the ambiance when setting up a spa.
All in all, designing for commercial spaces encounters some different challenges, compared to domestic spaces. No essential functions can be being burdened, frustrated, or otherwise made difficult by design choices. The design strategy will have different priorities depending on the aim of the space but it should always consider the key elements from space planning all the way to final ambiance. Contact us, if you are ready to design your own commercial space!