Studio Grayscale | Retail & Hospitality Interior Design



What does an interior designer do, we hear you ask…

Your first thought is probably, designing a residential interior… pulling together finishes, curtains, floor coverings, tiles, and selecting furniture…  but read on, if you want to learn how an interior designer can help you design an amazing retail store, a restaurant or café that really appeals to and draws in your target customer… 

A commercial interior designer is someone who has specific experience in designing commercially viable & successful retail spaces, cafes, restaurants and much more.  Drawing from their experience, a commercial interior designer can take your dreams and ideas to the next level, ideas that could make your space more efficient, more appealing, and ultimately, more successful. 

With good space planning – your interior could function better.  For a retail store, perhaps its fitting in more stock, creating a better customer journey, or developing a design that relates specifically to your brand, and which is appealing to your target customer.  For a hospitality space, it could be improving operations, ensuring your back of house functions smoothly and efficiently, or creating an interior space that is inviting and comfortable for your customers. 

Furthermore, what are the steps that an interior designer takes to get to the end result – the completed interior fit-out?... 

1: Research

Any good solution comes about with thorough research – your interior designer will research the existing marketplace & your current competitor’s. What offerings already exist?  Are there opportunities to create a point of difference, or do something better?  Your input as the business owner is also important here – share your insight with your interior designer on your brand, your target customer, your offering and your competitors. 

Your interior designer will research existing interior designs both locally and overseas.  They will consider trends and your target customer.  What appeals to them, what inspires them, and ultimately, what will attract them to your store, or hospitality venture.  This research process is about gathering a multitude of ideas and inspiration, in order to gain a clear insight into the vision you have for your brand / offering.  Gaining clear insight and direction at this stage, will ensure the next stage is on target. 

2: Concept Design

Once the research phase is complete, the designer should have a very clear understanding of your target customer, and your vision for the interior fit-out.  Once the understanding is clear, the interior designer can really get to work. 

First stage of the concept design is the layout plan – it’s important to establish this functional aspect first.  The interior designer will consider the specific functional requirements for the space and consider the customer journey from entry to departure.  The designer draws upon a wealth of knowledge and experience, including standards of design, proportion, space, and access requirements.  Planning for good traffic flow, avoiding congested areas, and maximising the space to its best potential.  There may be multiple plan layout options produced at this stage in the process, as there are sometimes more that one good solution.  The designer should gain approval from the client on the preferred plan layout before proceeding with developing the full three-dimensional concept design. 

Once the floorplan is confirmed and locked in, the interior designer will begin to formulate the interior design, drawing from the research & inspiration previously gathered, looking at design combinations – what works together well.  Developing and designing custom joinery and display solutions, sourcing off the shelf joinery, light fittings, and finishes for walls, floor and ceiling.  It is the interior designer’s job to compile all of these elements into a concept that works in unison, and that is in accordance with the original brief.  The concept should be appealing to your target customer and considered in its functionality.   

Once the concept design is complete, the interior designer will present this to you, the client together with the collection of finishes.  After the presentation, you can provide feedback and request elements to be updated before moving into the next phase. 

4: Preliminary Drawings

Once the concept design has been established, the designer will complete the preliminary drawings.  These are detailed construction drawings, which take the concept design to a further level of detail.  The purpose of the preliminary drawings is to give the builder instruction and information on how the interior design should be constructed.  The preliminary drawings will include design details for both joinery and the entire interior. A typical preliminary site design pack would include the following drawings (as required):  existing conditions/demo plan, floorplan, dimension plan, finishes plan, electrical plan, drainage plan, reflected ceiling plan, shopfront elevations and interior elevations.  If there is custom joinery or details, there will also be joinery drawings within the pack.  For example, reception counter, product displays, tables, shelving, etc.  This will vary from site to site and brand to brand.

 The key purpose of the preliminary pack, is to further resolve all concept design details, collate all relevant information, in order to provide a pack which can be accurately quoted from.  This pack may also be used for approvals (for example, approvals with shopping centres or landlords). 

5: Quoting Process

Once the preliminary drawings are complete, these are sent out for quoting.  The designer should recommend x3 suitable shopfitters to send the drawing set to.  Either party can look after this process, but keep in mind, the Interior Designer will have reviewed many tender packs in the past and is therefore experienced in reviewing quotes to ensure all required items are included, and that all quotes are comparable. The quoting process usually takes 2 weeks.   

6: Construction

Once the shopfitter is selected and site handover has taken place, the shopfitter can begin construction.  The shopfitter should be able to provide a program of works, outlining what will be happening onsite each day, and clearly identifying completion dates. 

The shopfitter will set-out the shop, in accordance with the design drawings, and begin the build.  It’s beneficial if the shopfitter & designer have worked together before and have a good working relationship – ideally the shopfitter will liaise with the interior designer to resolve any design details that may require alteration along the way. 

7: Defects Inspection

At the completion of the fit-out, the interior designer reviews the shopfitters work and ensures all is built as expected, in accordance with the construction drawings.  Effectively, the construction drawings become a document to determine if the shopfitter has delivered what was quoted for.  Items that do not match the construction drawings may be considered a defect, which should be rectified to align with the documentation drawings.   

In summary, engaging an interior designer into your commercial fit-out design process, makes commercial sense.  An interior designer will add value to your design, ensure best practice and best outcomes for both the functional and aesthetic elements of your design.  Not only this, resolving issues before they reach the building site – and having a design fully resolved before the builder is involved will save you costly mistakes in the long run.  Engaging an interior designer will ensure you have the best design outcome from the beginning.



Amy Gray