What is Retail Interior Design?

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  • Written By: Tess C. Taylor
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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Retail interior design is an exciting career option in which the inside environment of a retail location, such as a store or shopping center, can be enhanced to make it a pleasant place for consumers to spend time in. Retail interior designers use many of the same components as home interior design to transform the atmosphere of a retail space into something beautiful and functional, but on a larger, more calculated scale. Interior designers who choose to work in retail design have additional training to manage this medium.

Retail interior design in a store or shopping mall can include special overhead and accent lighting, plus the use of carefully selected colors, furnishings, flooring, fabrics and textures to create an appealing place for consumers to visit. The only difference from house interior design is that the design aspect is in the context of marketing the products or services of the business within the space. If a company is trying to sell or highlight a particular product or line, then the retail interior design must match with the theme of the product to entice consumers to purchase it.


Designing the interior of a retail space can be a challenge for any interior designer because of the large area to be covered and the complexity of the space itself. Generally, retail interior designers work in teams with each member handling an aspect of the design process. For example, there may be an interior designer in charge of working with the marketing team, while others may work specifically on colors or textures to use within the retail space. Other retail interior designers are experts at selecting artwork, displays or furnishings to be included in the store.

A successful retail interior design professional will be able to create an environment in which consumers feel good or have a pleasant experience while shopping. Retail interior designers work closely with store owners to make sure that the space is inviting and comfortable for anyone who enters. In general, having a retail space that people like to visit results in better sales than a space with stark walls or a crammed with poorly displayed merchandise.

Skillful retail interior designers are highly valued by businesses that understand the human component to running a storefront. Many of the best known retail interior designers are well-paid for seasonal department displays and massive design campaigns at major retail chains around the world. Each day these award-winning retail interior designers create the image brand that famous stores are known for.


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Post 4

My cousin does this for a living, and he has worked on everything from clothing store to hotel interior design. He likes having control over the experience customers have when they walk through the area.

In clothing stores, he gets to set up special sale displays. He orders special shelving and racks and arranges the clothes in a way that makes them most attractive. He also adds decorative elements, like Christmas ornaments and tinsel around the holidays.

He really loves doing hotel interior design, though. He did one hotel on the coast, and he got to shop for exotic tropical paintings and furniture. He provided them with brightly colored oil paintings of tropical plants and wildlife, along with plush sea-green couches and carpet.

Post 3

Whoever did the retail interior design of my local mall did a great job. There is plenty of room for pedestrians to pass each other on both sides, and things are laid out in such a way that the bathrooms and food court are central to everything.

Also, there are benches every few feet in the center of the wide hall. Each bench has a garbage can near one end and a potted tree by the other. Having plants in the mall helps with the air quality, I'm sure, and having plenty of garbage cans available helps cut down on litter.

The individual stores were probably designed by someone hired by that specific company, but the layout of

the whole mall was designed by one person. I am particularly impressed with his design of the food court. He placed high skylights over the whole area, allowing natural light to fall on the people eating below. This probably keeps the electric bill down, and it makes people feel better to see some sunlight filtering through the roof and warming them.
Post 2

@lighth0se33 – I am glad that you are suggesting more open designs to restaurant owners. I have often been frustrated by cramped seating at my favorite eating places, and I wondered what the designers were thinking!

My parents own a combination antique store/cafe, and they told their retail interior designer that they wanted the space to feel roomy and relaxed. They have plenty of merchandise in the store, but none of it is placed so close that you have to squeeze just to walk through the area.

Also, the booths and tables in the cafe are pretty far apart. The area around the soda machine is wide open, so people don't have to fight for space while filling up

their cups.

My friends have visited the store and the cafe often, and they all say that they feel very relaxed while inside. Other antique stores in town pack stuff in every inch of space, and these congested areas make my friends feel nervous and claustrophobic.

Post 1

I have worked in the field of restaurant interior design for many years. Before I got started in this career, I had visited many restaurants that I felt were poorly designed, and this motivated me to get myself in a position to change things for the better.

To me, one of the worst things a restaurant can do is cram in too many tables. Sure, they want to attract more business, but if you stick your customers in tiny spaces too close to strangers, they will feel uncomfortable and most likely will not come back.

When I design restaurant interiors, I always make sure that even the two-person tables are large enough to comfortably accommodate two overweight people. I also never recommend putting booths back to back, because then you can feel the strangers behind you moving around.

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