October 22, 2015

Understanding the Design Process

1667_2_WorkstationsUnderstanding the commercial interior design process to can be both amazing and daunting for a business owner, whether it’s your first time at the rodeo or you have done it before.

And while you should begin the process well before you plan to remodel or move, you first need to have a clear understanding of your space requirements, so that your quest for the perfect space can be as productive and efficient as necessary.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

Let’s take a look at the design process below with the goal of helping you understand the many steps necessary for a successful architectural design experience.

And remember, retaining an experienced interior designer or architect, like StudioW2 (shameless plug here), that will help lead the team through the design process will be in the best interest of all involved.

Once you have them on board, let the fun begin…



First, and most important, take the time to develop a detailed space requirement program.

This will determine if the interior space you are considering will require modifications, and exactly at what level, which determines the amount of dollars you will be investing to get the work done.

This step is SO important that we have dedicated a separate article and page to emphasis the importance of programming for your new space.

Check it out here.



With completed programming in hand, the space plan process can begin. This includes an initial layout of your space requirements taking into consideration department adjacencies, office and/or open work area layouts and support area locations.

This plan will be provided to you for review, either online or in person, with modifications to follow based on your comments. During this process and/or immediately after, StudioW2 will start the design development phase of your project.



With the help of a general contractor, StudioW2 will have the ability to estimate design and construction costs at the beginning of the design process and prior to you committing to a lease. Another reason it is crucial to have an experienced designer on board before the lease is finalized.

These drawings are generally referred to as pricing plans or preliminary construction documents.

Once the space plans and design development phases are complete, we will ask a general contractor to provide a cost estimate for your project.

Normally completed in two weeks or less, this “preliminary” construction budget can be reviewed for a better understanding of the costs associated with your project. This allows for discussion of any unknown factors and revisions to the plans (if necessary) to help better define the budget and costs of your project.



Prior to large format printers, construction documents were literally a “reproduction of a technical drawing using a contact print process on light-sensitive sheets”, or “blueprint”. The dictionary defines blueprint as the design plan. But enough history for now…

Construction documents generally serve two purposes for your project: (1) to submit for approval of a building permit from the city or local authority and (2) to build-out the interior space.

For all you foodies, think of construction documents as the recipe for success. The final set of drawings will specify every element of the project, from the structure of the walls to the floor finish and paint colors, to location and specifications for airflow, lighting, electrical power and technology.

And while the contractor won’t care about the fire life safety occupancy count, for example, and the building inspector isn’t interested in the way a decorative built in element is detailed, both need to be included.





It is important to team up with qualified professionals to help guide the way.

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