Commercial Design: Creating Business Interiors that Work

For us here at CFD, Commercial Design is all about helping business owners and supporting our local economy. Commercial Design is a key part of our own business here at the studio, and today we’re giving it the spotlight on the blog. Right from the start, businesses of all shapes and sizes have come to CFD looking for help creating a more functional, beautiful, usable space. Whether it’s employees or customers, commercial spaces are places where people spend a great deal of time, and where so much important connection happens- and to us, that means great design is in order. From enhancing productivity to elevating customer appeal, we believe that workspaces should work hard to make the business the best that it can be.

Concept and Commercial Design

Work and consumer culture, and subsequently commercial spaces, have gone through a lot of transition over the last few decades. From individual offices and millions of half-walls to wide-open plans to multi-use spaces- there has been a whirlwind of evolving trend. Even if we think of restaurants years ago with the maze of individual booths and tables versus the scene we see now in local eateries, it’s a noticeable renaissance. That progression provides an opportunity for so much creativity in re-thinking the status quo and designing purposeful spaces that truly WORK. Every business is unique and we know that with each custom space that we design, getting to know the business, their team, and their customers, is the first building block to creating their perfect space.

Commercial Office Design in Raleigh - Cat French Design

When Commercial Gets Custom

No doubt, we’re all familiar with the Office Space-esque rows of identical cubicles or the blank feel of lengthy store aisles. One of the great parts of working with business owners is that we get to create custom spaces that are novel, unique, and strategic. In other words, it’s designed to fit what that business is actually doing in the day-to-day. There is no one-size-fits-all approach in our process, and this helps us to create spaces that foster identity, teamwork, and maximize consumer appeal. We’re thinking about every inch of that space and how it impacts everyone inside- whether they’re working, shopping, eating, or meeting. When we’re getting to know a business owner, we’re talking about not just immediate needs, but also their goals, vision, and plans for where they want the business to go, so that we can create a space that will help them get there and showcases their brand.

Restaurant Design in Chapel Hill - Cat French Design

Wearing many (hard) Hats

We’ve talked a little bit before in this post about Full-Service Design and what that means for us at CFD. This plays a huge role in our work with businesses. We are often working with teams of folks in the business itself, from C-level execs to committees to advisory boards- as well as contractors and a huge variety of other tradespeople. Communication is crucial when we’re looking at a large-scale space and scope. Project management? We’re on it- that’s one of the many hats we wear. Timeline, prioritization, and operating closely with installers and vendors across all types of projects has become our wheelhouse over the years. These are relationships that matter, and with each new project, we work hard to establish that “dream team” of professionals who work closely together and share the same common goal of making an incredible outcome for the client and space.

Commercial Residential Design in Carrboro - Cat French Design

Working Smarter

Everyone enjoys a space that is beautiful (us included!) but Commercial Design is about SO much more than just looks. Function is always important, but is even more critical in a space that needs to be primed for productivity. For example, when we’re looking at spaces like restaurants or retail stores, we’re mapping out every move that employees and customers are making in the space- what is the flow of movement and how can we streamline it to enhance business objectives? Capacity, code, and materials that will stand up to constant use are critical touchpoints in the process. We’re also looking strategically at aesthetics- and everything that meets a customer’s eye is considered, from the lighting to the color scheme, all the way to the cash wrap- every part matters. If you’re thinking this sounds like a whole lot of work and planning- you’re right. But if it means a space where business can thrive, then it’s well worth the front-end effort to get that design exactly right.

Office Space Design in Durham - Cat French Design

Dynamic Design

Places where employees gather, such as conference rooms and offices and even that gorgeous CEO suite, are more than just a box with a desk. Smart and strategic Commercial Design can create an environment that promotes the things you want- whether that’s a space that is inspirational and creative, quiet and relaxed, busy and vibrant- there is a great deal of theory and precision that a skilled, experienced design team can bring to the table. Believe it or not, great design can create spaces that encourage communication, collaboration, and relationship-building while also enhancing individual productivity. Businesses are far from static; things are always moving and changing (and growing!) and dynamic design is one of the ways we create spaces that adapt to change and stand the test of time.

Executive Suite Design in Chapel Hill - Cat French Design

Cat was recently featured on an expert discussion for the Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce discussing how businesses can adjust space and design to ensure employee health safety at work (lookout for more on this via our Instagram!).

We love helping business owners create incredible spaces. Check out some of our past commercial design projects on the CFD Portfolio Page, as well as the CFD blog! If you’d like to know more about our Commercial Design Services, you can always reach us at or via the short form on our Contact Page. For more up-to-date happenings and goings-on of the CFD team, check out our Facebook Page or follow us on Instagram @catfrenchdesign!