Licensed architects go through a lot of training to get to where they are. Becoming a licensed architect requires many years of schooling and practical experience, and it also involves sitting for multiple exams in order to prove their knowledge and skills. After everything they go through, it makes sense that architects consider themselves experts in their field—even if they are just technically starting out in the industry.
While an architect is certainly an expert in design, it is important that they remember that the client is the expert in how the space being designed will be used.
When it comes to designing commercial interiors, you should hire an architect who is willing to work closely with your company’s owner or a management-level employee who will actually be working in the space on the daily. The architect needs to gain a good understanding of how the space will be used, what type of work is being done, and the unique needs of your particular business. Understanding things like workflow, storage needs, the type of specialty equipment that is used in business operations, and how employees interact during the workday are all vital to a successful commercial interior design.
If your company is looking for purely interior design (and doesn’t need any changes to your space’s existing floorplan), you could work with either an architect or an interior designer who specializes in commercial spaces. But going with a residential designer could be a mistake. This is because the materials used in commercial spaces are typically very different than those used in residential applications. For example, you’ll likely want flooring materials in your commercial space that are durable and easy to clean. You may also be looking for cabinetry that is designed for heavy use and is also cost effective. Whereas in your home, you might want kitchen cabinets made from solid wood, a breakroom kitchen is more likely to have cabinets made from materials like melamine. In addition, commercial and residential lighting fixtures are very different and need to be configured differently.
While there’s no reason why a residential architect or interior designer couldn’t design a commercial interior, it is helpful to hire someone who is familiar with the types of products typically used in commercial spaces.
You should also look for a commercial interior designer who will take the time to understand the type of environment you are trying to create in your space. Some companies will require a soothing aesthetic (like a spa or doctor’s office), while others will want something more vibrant (like a retail store catering to teens and young adults). Still others will want an edgy, modern space that inspires creativity and innovation. As you interview architects and interior designers for your project, look for one who really seems to understand the type of environment you wish to create for your employees and customers and one who is also open to incorporating the ideas you have for your space.