Forest Holidays Retail Store

Within the commercial interior design sector there are a few different types of interior design practices, each taking a slightly different approach depending on the style of venue. For example, hospitality interior design, retail design and workplace design all fall under this commercial interior umbrella but all have different needs when it comes to the interior design of the space. In previous blogs we have spoken about hospitality design and commercial design in general but today we are introducing you to the retail interior design practice.

Retail design comes under the umbrella of commercial interior design, it specifically refers to the design of a commercial interior space that sells a product or service. Often combining architecture, interior design and merchandising this discipline is both creative and technical. The design, layout and function of a retail space is key to how well the products and services sell and how the brand/store performs financially. Design solutions and strategy can be sued across many aspects of a retail store including interior design, lighting design, visual merchandising, music and store layouts,

The main purpose of retail design is o to entice customers, improve customer journey, enhance sales to and to positively impact customer retention. However another great aspect of retail design is how it can be used to elevate the brand and to help build familiarity and awareness around your brand and wider purpose. Retail design gives the business scope to establish and reinforce brand identities, it’s a platform for meaningful brand communication and a chance to build purposeful recognition of the brand.

The best designed retail interiors will entice customers in, keep them engaged and actively support the sales journey for the customer. Retail design is also an effective way to pitch yourself against competitor stores, essentially it’s about getting to know your customers and what it is they want and need and using retail design to provide a much better experience they won’t get elsewhere. If you can provide valuable experiences and leave a great impression you will more than likely encourage the customer to return to your store over another. 

Retail store design is all about designing a purposeful shop that optimises space and enhances sales. A shop is a major customer touchpoint for brands and while well decorated stores will look appealing, retail spaces need another level of consideration. When it comes to the store, it needs to embody the brand and represent the brand’s identity. A strategy needs to be considered carefully for a retail store and this needs to take into account aspects outside the ‘aesthetics’ of the design process, inevitably this strategy will cross over with branding, merchandising, and marketing too.

It’s important to note that there is a big difference between independent retail stores and big brand retailers, an independent retail store is often run by a much smaller team of people and an owner/founder who is completely responsible for their brand. Independent retailers tend to build the business from the ground up and work towards opening up independent retail stores without the support of big or established brands. Often located on local highstreets, villages and towns these often have much more autonomy over their store design and some of the most inspiring retail interior designs are within independent stores.

There are so many types of retail stores, here are some of the most common categories. Apparel & accessories, furniture & homeware, food & beverage, health & beauty, sport & leisure, DIY & garden and electrical & technology. Each one of these categories will have slightly different needs when it comes to their interior design.

Grey Coffee have worked on a range of retail interior design projects. We work collectively with brands to create retail interiors that shape immersive experiences for your customers. Interior design for retail stores should be unique, meaningful and above all memorable. Your retail space is a key customer and brand touch point, this is why we ensure the retail interior design is consistent and aligned with all other brand elements. By building a more cohesive brand you will be rewarded with trust and loyalty both of which impact sales and business growth.

Richard Smith – Grey Coffee were appointed by Richard Smith to undertake the Interior design duties for their new retail space in Hale, Manchester. Richard Smith is a premium clothing brand that produces the finest garments and occasion wear from their studio in Hale.

Richard Smith - Shop Retail Interior

Retail Design - Richard Smith Project VisualProject Insight: Richard Smith

Forest Holidays – Grey Coffee started working with Forest Holidays in 2018. We were appointed by Forest Holidays to improve the utilisation of indoor and outdoor space and customer experience in the main retreat building which is used for retail, reception check in and food and beverage. The retail area has a sustainable supermarket concept, there has been the introduction of more foliage and where possible the use of more natural and sustainable materials.

Forest Holidays: Retail Space Visual
Forest Holidays, Delamere playground and RetreatPictures Paul Box

Project Insight: Forest holidays

Fitism – Our brief was to take an independent self made gym brand and transform it into a highly dynamic and bespoke elite fitness studio with retail and food and beverage offering. As well as the consideration for the gym space we came up with some really great concepts with the future in mind, this ranged from a F&B (food & beverage) space and a retail space too. 

Introduction To Retail Design - Fitism Project Visual

Commercial Interior Design - Gym Kitchen & CafeProject Insight: Fitism

An aspect that many brands forget about is that their store is another platform fro their brand, its an additional avenue to connect and provide consistency to their customers. Many brands focus on getting their website looking ‘on brand,’ appealing to the customer and running smoothly, whilst this is worthwhile, its also important to put as much thought into the design and optimisation of the store as you would designing and optimising the website. The store is another significant reflection of the brand and should be intrinsically link back to the brand and its existing aesthetic across other platforms too.

Layout –
Layout is a key factor when it comes to retail design, this is something that needs to be planned around the desired customer journey. The best retail store layout will depend on the size, shape and type of space it is, as well as the products or service you are offering. It’s important that the space flows and that the customer is at ease during their visit, but more importantly you want the consumer to feel enticed and proactively engaging with the brand or product.

The layout of a store is often the starting point for a designer, once the layout is determined then the creative design aspects can follow, although the layout of a retail store isn’t as simple as it sounds. When working specifically on retail space management it includes the general arrangement, lighting plans and equipment location like other commercial designs but you also need to consider the product placement, advertising opportunities, the placement of payment systems as well as the flow of the traffic and the sales journey too.

Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment – The FF&E within a retail space will depend on the type of store it is, for example a homeware store will have a very different aesthetic to a tailors and will therefore require different things. Much like other commercial designs though, store design isnt all about functionality, its also important that the styling and merchandising of the space is spot on as this impacts the buyers decision making too. Retail design is not an ‘one size fits all’ technique, a retail store can consist of things like display units, shelving, bespoke fixtures, props, artwork, lighting, mannequins, signage holders, rails, stands and so on. Because the furniture, fittings and equipment varies across the types of retail stores its common for companies to bring a commercial designer on board to strategically plan, source and curate the retail store. A commercial designer would take care of the layout of the equipment, furniture and fixtures but would also handle the design and curation of the space as well as the sourcing of any peices.

The key aspects to think about here is how you want the customer to interact with the store, the products or the service you want them to invest in and how you want to position your brand against your competitors.


Commercial designers are responsible for the design of commercial spaces for the product or service industries. They are skilled in creating functional, beautiful and transformational design for retail businesses. Their briefs often go above and beyond just the aesthetic design of  retail interior, they take into consideration the customer journey, the brand and the functionality of the space to ensure they produce a concept that will positively enhance the brand, the sales and customer retention. Comerical designers commonly lead their process with strategy and with a strong sense of the brand or store they are working with. They can work across a variety of retail stores from a tailors or high end apparel store to  beauty or homeware stores and have to have strong attention to detail as well as strong project managing skills to be able to oversee the project from creating the initial retail interior design concept right through to the fit-out stages of the project.

We believe that interior design for retail should be highly aligned with your brand ethos and clearly communicate your brand story. Retail interior design led by brand thinking enables us to create interior spaces and customer experiences that are highly connected and memorable for your customers. Over the years we have crafted a retail design process that enables us to work with and alongside your team to create retail interiors that really do impact business growth. 

If you have a retail interior design project and want to know more about how we can support you with your project – lets talk! 

We hope you have found this blog helpful. You may want to consider having a look through some of our other brand insights (below).

If you’re interested in understanding how we can help you to transform your interior and impact business growth then you may want to explore our other services pages,  Commercial interior design, Coffee ShopCafe,  BarRestaurant or talk to us today!

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