The Future of Commercial Interior Design

The Future of Commercial Interior Design

Interior designers across the world are having to consider new ways of approaching how offices, retail stories and the hospitality sector should be designed, due to concerns over controlling the current Covid-19 pandemic. With 59% of people in the UK reporting to be concerned about the pandemic, clearly the way modern spaces will be designed in the future must be re-thought.

What does the future of commercial interior design look like? From hygiene stations, to innovative social distancing measures and virtual staging, we will be exploring the possibilities and change needed to adapt to the new normal when it comes to commercial interiors.

What measures have consumers been taking?

Before we look into some of the solutions interior designers can implement, let’s take a look at how individuals have taken measures to protect themselves during the pandemic

According to data from Statista, here are the top ten measures people took between February and April 2020:


Measure taken



Avoiding public spaces



Improve personal hygiene, e.g. using hand sanitizer 



Avoid travelling



Avoid public transport



Refrain from touching objects in public



Avoid contact with people who have/have had the flu



Avoid going to work



Avoid physical contact with those that have recently travelled



Avoid consumption of uncooked/raw meat



Wear a face mask in public


As you can see, the majority of the measures people have taken during the pandemic are related to reducing their proximity to other people. Therefore, the job of commercial interior design moving forward should be to ensure that people can use their offices, visit a shop or eat out at a restaurant in a safe way. 

The main things that all businesses and organisations should be doing in order to Covid-proof their spaces is to allow for social distancing and more frequent cleaning. Government guidelines currently state that a minimum of 1m between you and others should be practised, although wherever possible, you should try to keep as much distance as you possibly can and wear facecoverings in shops.

Two Helpful Tips for Covid-Proof Commercial Interior Design

In this section, we will be taking a closer look at some general tips that commercial interior designers could consider when it comes to making places safer to work and play in.

Tip One: Consider Virtual Staging

Virtual staging could be a great alternative for interior designers to look into, especially in places where it may be hard to keep your distance e.g. smaller spaces. Virtual staging works by using software that can allow you to design and visualise a space - from where to place furniture, to the layout of the space in question. This can then be sent to your clients safely whilst minimising any in-person interaction. 

Virtual staging has been around for several years, but search data shows that since the pandemic, searches for “virtual staging” have gone up by a massive 270% - or four times the amount compared to June 2019.

Search Data for Virtual Staging

June 2019

June 2020

Percentage change




How Does Virtual Staging Work?

Adapting to virtual staging minimises the amount you will need to meet a client, and this is because most of the interaction can be based on whichever virtual staging design software you decide to use, combined with communication through video calls. All you need to do is: 

  • Have your client send photographs of their space

  • Discuss with them any specific branding or decor considerations they may have. Are they going for a particular aesthetic?

  • Create a mock-up of their space using the virtual staging software

  • Send it over for approval

Tip Two: Invest in Easy to Maintain Surfaces

It is in your company’s best interest to maintain great standards of hygiene - whether that is to protect your employees or your customers. You will most likely be looking into increasing the amount you clean desks, door handles, equipment and any other high traffic areas. 

You may find that over time, these surfaces become worn down and damaged from the chemicals in cleaning agents. Certain materials such as wood may also be more susceptible in harbouring bacteria due to their porous properties, and you may have to continuously varnish them to maintain their quality. On the other hand, materials such as quartz and steel could be better alternatives as they are anti-porous, making them great for displays or counters.

If you have budget and design considerations to take into account, then laminate sheets are versatile, non-porous and simple to maintain. This isn’t to suggest that they cannot harbour bacteria like other surfaces can, but ensuring that you keep on top of your cleaning is crucial. The beauty of high pressure laminates is that unlike wood, regular cleaning is less likely to damage the look and feel of the surface, so it’s both convenient and cost effective and also available are laminate surfaces with anti-bacterial properties.

We are here to help you with all of your surface requirements, including antibacterial laminate. Contact us to find out more, call us: 01245 329922 or email us at:

We’ve done the research on some of the most popular surfaces used in commercial interiors for you so you can explore your options for easy to maintain and hygienic surfaces.


Average cost per sq ft (£)




Anti-porous, sturdy



Anti-porous, corrosion resistant, durable



Anti-porous, durable



Anti-porous, good heat resistance



Porous, durable, can stain easily

The Future of Offices

A survey carried out by Brother UK looking at office workers’ attitudes towards returning to work revealed that understandably, there is still some apprehension when it comes to coming back into the office.

The Top Five Workplace Worries


The biggest workplace worries



The work commute



Sharing toilet facilities



Sharing canteen facilities



How clean the office is



How clean colleagues are


Consider Ventilation

When it comes to commercial interior design, there has never been a more crucial time to consider ventilation in the office. Window access could be key for this and ensures that air is not being re-circulated around the office through air conditioning. Ensure that a plan for safe and proper ventilation is factored into any of your interior design plans.

Re-Think Communal Areas

You could say that the days of game rooms or anywhere in the office where people are packed close together, whether it is in a canteen or in a break-out room, are over. But this needn’t be the case - re-designing them so an appropriate distance can be maintained by spreading out furniture and seats, or introducing quiet areas where your employees can come and decompress can make all the difference to maintaining a covid-proof office whilst looking after their wellbeing.

The Future of Retail Stores

According to Statista, footfall to retail stores and shopping centres in the UK has dropped by 75% in April. What can be done from an interior design perspective to increase consumers’ confidence in shopping in-store again? Here are two widely implemented suggestions:

One-Way Systems

Taking a leaf out of the wayfinding system that IKEA has implemented for several years, a tougher alternative could be to enforce a one-way system throughout stores. This is especially useful for smaller shops where people may be closer in proximity to others. Not only does this technique work to strategically take your customers around all of your merchandise, but it also helps them to avoid brushing shoulders with another customer walking in the opposite direction. Seems pretty straightforward, but this strategy could also have great leverage for sales, too!

Limit Customer Numbers In-Store

Whilst in an ideal world you would never stop a customer from coming into your store for a browse, keeping the amount of customers that can come in and shop at any given time is necessary for this climate. 

To calculate how many you can take on, you will need to look into the size of your store and consider how easy it would be for customers to maintain a social distance - do your displays i.e. shelves make it difficult for multiple people to browse at once? How many customers can queue at a safe distance between each other?

To keep track of the flow of customers, some stores have opted for a member of staff to use a counter to monitor how many are in the store. Others have things like traffic lights at entrances, where red indicates you must wait outside, and green indicates there is enough capacity to let you in. Whatever you opt for, ensure crowding indoors is avoided at all costs.

The Future of Hospitality 

Statista’s study on the state of hospitality footfall found that by March 20th, it had decreased by 58%. As far as restaurants in particular are concerned, daily restaurant dining declined by 52% on March 16th, to 82% just one day later. How can effective interior design restore confidence and bring customers back to dining out again?

Table Service

Many bars and pubs are operating a table service system to reduce, or altogether get rid of the possibility of multiple people crowding in the bar area. 

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Some establishments also have apps that allow you to order in advance, and can often be made contactless. Most places will encourage contactless card payments to minimise spreading bacteria through handling cash, which is another way to ensure contact is minimal and bacteria is not being spread as much.

Outdoor Seating

Many towns and cities are embracing pedestrianisation of busy inner-town areas so that dining al fresco can be made possible, as well as helping people socially distance whilst they walk around. Investing in durable and comfortable outdoor furniture can help you to attract customers that are still unsure about dining indoors, and allows them to enjoy the weather when it co-operates as well.

Hygiene Stations

Hand sanitising dispensers should be encouraged for use by customers and staff upon entering and leaving the premises, as well as when you leave toilet facilities. Placing these next to doorways, and integrating reminders to sanitise into your decor are key to making the practise of proper hygiene more embedded into our daily lives. Sure, instructing a customer to wash their hands or have some sanitising gel isn’t the nicest thing to say, but it’s a step forward to the “new normal” we will be living in.

Final Thoughts

We hope our blog has given you some direction of aspects to look into when it comes to commercial interior design. Returning to normal life will be a gradual process, but gaining your customers’ and employees’  trust by making your spaces as Covid-proof as possible is a step in the right direction. Designing spaces with socially distancing and hygiene considerations in mind will be pivotal to the future of commercial interior design.

Geaves can recommend a range of budget-friendly and hygienic surfaces for offices, right across to restaurants and schools. We are always happy to discuss any design needs with you, so call our team today on 01245 329922 or email us at: