Commercial Design Services: How to Choose the Perfect Partner

Commercial Design Services: How to Choose the Perfect Partner
by Eric Cup / August 14, 2023

Picture this: You've just secured a prime location for your new flagship retail store, or perhaps you're in the process of revamping your corporate lobby to reflect your brand's identity. You understand the impact that a well-designed space can have on your customers, employees, and overall business success. But now comes the challenging part: finding the perfect commercial design services partner to bring your vision to life. 

Whether you're embarking on a new venture or revamping an existing space, finding a design partner who understands your vision, shares your passion, and possesses the expertise to bring your dreams to life is paramount. In this article, we will explore the essential factors to consider when selecting the ideal commercial interior partner, ensuring that your space becomes a true testament to your brand and a haven for your employees and customers.

What do Commercial Design Services Do?

Commercial design services fill the gap between architects and interior designers. The goal is to create a space that tells a story for your customers, employees, and the public. These placemaking efforts infuse brand and story into three-dimensional space allowing an environment to be both functional for business and evocative of brand values and aesthetics.

5 Things to Consider Before Consulting Any Commercial Design Service

  1. What is your vision for the space? What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want to tell the story of your brand? Introduce a new product? 
  2. What is your budget?
  3. What is your timeline?
  4. How much customization do you want or does the space or branding require?
  5. How big is the scope? One location or many? Do you just need new furnishings, or is it a full renovation?

Hire the right vendors for your next custom interior.

Commercial Design Services – Which Type of Partner is Best for You?

Architecture/Interior Design Firms

Commercial architecture and/or interior design firms are probably the most common type of commercial design service. They offer facility planning, construction documents, and building envelopes, and can address overall specifications from a core or shell to a full build-out. They often offer interior rendering services and will likely have experience with similar projects and can meet most design needs in-house.

The drawback of working with interior design or architecture firms for commercial interiors is they may not have enough (or any) experience creating spaces that incorporate branding, storytelling, immersive experiences, or entertainment. They might have the technical and design aspects covered but may fall short when it comes to the marketing and branding needs of a commercial project. 

Marketing Agencies

Marketing agencies occasionally get tapped to take on commercial design services because, unlike many architects and interior designers, they ARE experienced at branding. However, that rarely translates into expertise in experiential design and spatial storytelling – that is, translating 2D design into an engaging 3D experience. Plus, marketing agencies aren’t well-versed on the functional side of things – the structural, mechanical, electronic, and space planning aspects –  not to mention making the space durable enough to hold up to heavy use. 

Individual Designers/Contractors

Individual contractors in this space can be more nimble and flexible with scheduling, are often less expensive than firms, and may have better local area knowledge and connections which can be incredibly helpful if you are operating both on a tight budget and a short timeline. 

However, because they are independent contractors, they may lack experience in some areas, and most definitely will not have the ability to do everything in-house. Aspects of the design, fabrication, or construction will likely require outsourcing, which opens you up to both additional costs and potential delays. If your project is particularly large or complex, any short-term gains may wind up as long-term headaches if too many third parties are involved.

Experiential Design & Fabrication Studios

Finally, experiential design and fabrication studios offer brands a wide range of services from space planning to 3D rendering to digital fabrication and installation. Although not architects, these all-inclusive studios often have the multidisciplinary skills required to bring branded spaces to life – from designing and installing retail store interiors to revamping corporate office lobbies and employee lounges. Additionally, because these studios think in 3D and have experience in both marketing and design, you can be assured that your space will be functional, durable, and infused with your brand story.

The downside? Well, depending on the scope of your project, you may still need an architect to contribute to the structural design and mechanical aspects of the building or space. However, if significant changes to the structure aren’t required, an integrated design and fabrication studio can often be a single-source solution. 

Choosing the best partner for your specific commercial design project will be driven in large part by the scope, needs, and budget of your project as well as how much or little customization is required. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different types of providers will help you determine the kind of commercial design service that will meet your unique needs.

At Bridgewater Studio, we provide turnkey commercial design services for a variety of business needs from corporate office interiors to retail and hospitality design to architectural digital fabrication. To find out how our all-inclusive design and fabrication services can help bring your commercial design project to life, schedule a free, no-obligation introduction to Bridgewater today.



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