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What Sets Commercial Interior Design Apart From Residential?

Businesses and homes are constantly evolving. The demand for interior design changes with the changes in societal needs. Commercial office designs are created to serve a functional corporate environment, while residential designs are created to serve living spaces. The key difference between the two forms of interior design is that residential design focuses on personal needs, while corporate office interior design focuses on audiences' needs beyond your own.

Residential Interior Design: Personal Needs Being Met

Interior design covers a wide range of design activities. Residential interior design is a subset category that focuses on residential homes, involving the process of designing and decorating a residential home. This includes choosing paint colours and materials to selecting the right furniture décor. The crux of residential design is about creating the best living environment that is functional yet reflects your family style and personality. Without proper design, homes would feel unintentional rather than designed with specific purposes.

Commercial Interior Design: Public Needs Being Met

Commercial interior design involves the designing and planning of the space intended for corporate purposes. An office interior designer generally takes into account several factors, such as shape, size, budget, location, and purpose of the given space. Other considerations, such as the type of work that the business deals with, also affect the overall design of the space. It is not just about matching the right furniture, but it encompasses how space design can affect people flow, the productivity and general well-being of those working in the office. Office space designer understands how various design elements could affect the customers' perspective of the client's brand. The key result is being able to deliver a commercial office interior design that matches the designer's creative ability with the client's taste.

Similarity between commercial and residential design

With that being said, one might think that there are many differences between the two design forms. However, they are not as different as it seems. Some interior designers do provide both residential and commercial interior design services. At the end of the day, both utilise the same fundamental skills, such as:

  • Sketching: This process allows both residential and commercial interior designers to easily and quickly experiment with several solutions, possibilities, and ideas before investing energy and time into expensive materials or begin designing their final work.

  • Digital imaging: This process creates realistic rendering of their work to provide the designer and client visualise what the final result might look like. It converts a 1-D drawing into a 3D image, providing a more accurate representation of the space's function and feel.

  • CAD (Computer-Aided-Design): There are several ways CAD is often utilised to improve the efficiency of residential and commercial interior design. One of the most common ways is combining CAD with an animation programme and rendering engine, allowing the clients to interact with the designed space digitally. Through the design, clients are able to turn on lights as well as open drawers and cabinets to get a feel of the overall design. With CAD, designers are able to plan for spatial restrictions using accurate measurements, thus saving time during the construction process.

  • Building codes: Residential and commercial buildings have their own set of building codes. Commercial buildings, while they have reasonably flexible codes, primarily focus on safety standards and accessibility. Residential buildings, on the other hand, focus on fire ratings and escapes, ensuring that the residents' safety is paramount.

  • Communication: Whether it is residential or commercial interior design, great communication skills are necessary. An experienced designer is able to understand what the client wants and needs and convey it across in their design to the constructors. Also, they are able to communicate to their clients in a respectful manner when they think that what their client wants might not work well with the design flow.


At the end of the day, commercial and residential interior design both have their set of guidelines. However, the most significant difference between the two lies in the clients they serve. For commercial designers, you are catering to a huge group of individuals that could range from the staff to the business's visiting clients and customers. On the other hand, residential designers cater from individuals to couples or families who will be living in the home for a couple of years or permanently.

Here at OSCA Asia, we are an office interior design company that is highly passionate about bringing the comforts of home into your workspace design. Throughout South East Asia, we have helped many companies, both big and small, enhance their brand and core values through tailor-made office interior renovations. Contact us to get started on creating a productive working environment for your employees today!

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