What is the Difference Between a Commercial Architect and a Residential Architect?

What is the Difference Between a Commercial Architect and a Residential Architect?


  • This blog explores the importance of intentional and functional spaces for both commercial and residential purposes
  • It explores the difference between commercial architects and residential architects with a focus on their respective areas of specialization
  • It discusses commercial architects' role when creating spaces for businesses and brands, with an emphasis on utilizing the best interior designers to create unique experiences for the consumer, properly aligned with branding
  • It highlights residential architecture, with a focus on using the professionals' expertise alongside an interior design firm to create bespoke homes that are tailored to the needs and lifestyle of the clients
  • It outlines the differences between each profession, with a focus on their specific clientele and collaboration styles, while also highlighting their similarities
An editorial style bedroom with an open concept floor plan
Photo by Roberto Nickson from Unsplash.

It has always been said that good architecture and interior design is not obvious; it is intentional and functional. The design layout just makes sense in the given space and environment, while incorporating aspects of the designer and homeowner's personality throughout the project. This is true regardless if the space is a beautiful home or a retail store; the experience needs to make sense for both, as they shape the world around us. The blog will explore the differences between commercial architects and residential architects, as although some aspects of the professions overlap, they differ significantly in various aspects. Continue reading to learn more.

Commercial Architects and Interior Designers

Commercial architecture refers to the art of designing and constructing buildings and other structures for businesses such as retail stores, offices or large-scale malls. The architecture and interior design of the space must reflect the aesthetic and brand identity of the business and support the intended business goals while considering all of the outdoor urban planning concepts and building materials that will be required.

A key feature commercial architects must consider when working on client projects is that an experience must be created within the space, while the overarching emphasis must be focused on the consumer. In the case of retail stores, commercial architects and an interior designer are hired to design a unique space which will make people want to return, with the ultimate goal of making the business and stakeholders money. Seasoned commercial architects and designers will consider all aspects of the consumer experience, such as visuals, auditory and even scent. All of these aspects work together to create an unforgettable retail experience. If done successfully, the experience will feel natural to the consumer which is a sign of a successful project.

Residential Architecture Firms

On the other hand, residential architecture is focused primarily on creating unique spaces (such as houses or vacation homes) for clients. The residential design team will work with the client to create a unique home specifically tailored to the needs and wants of the client and their lifestyle. Using innovative design and Connecticut interior design firms, residential architects are skilled at providing fresh ideas while working closely with the client at every step during the house design process.

An interesting note about residential architecture firms is that typically the clients who seek out their design services are those looking to create a contemporary new home as they place value on individuality and thoughtful design. Although each client is different, one thing always remains consistent: every person who seeks out these kinds of design services believes in the value of a well-designed home. These clients are not interested in having a traditional cookie-cutter home but instead want to invest in a one-of-a-kind creative and tailor-made home just for them.

A retail store with intentional and bright interior design concepts
Photo by Erica Zhou from Unsplash.

What are the Key Differences Between the Two Professions?

One of the major differences between the two professions is their clientele. While both typically have a solid list of many clients, commercial architects work with brands and their teams, while traditional residential architects typically work with only the homeowner. In the case of commercial architecture, these professionals must collaborate with everyone on the brand’s team, which can include various stakeholders, CEOs, committees, departments (such as marketing), contractors and team leads. Although not necessarily hard to navigate, the style and amount of collaboration required may, in some cases, slow the process down. This is different from residential architecture, as the architects work with the homeowner only. This allows for a more seamless process and less time spent coordinating calls.

An interesting thing to note between the two professions is that although there are many differences, there are also some major similarities. For example, as commercial architecture is focused on the buyer and the journey, the same is said for residential architecture, where the focus is on the occupant and their journey throughout the home. For those working in residential architecture and who have made the switch to commercial work, it can sometimes be overwhelming as a big learning curve can usually be expected during this change. However, the professionals who move into residential work with a commercial architecture background may have a quicker time adjusting as many of the same principles can be carried over into residential design projects. For example, those who are used to commercial architecture must have strong communication and project management skills to ensure the project stays on track, which is a beneficial skill to bring to the residential side of the profession. From a professional standpoint, some people who thrive off of the creative aspect find residential work more satisfying as there is more room for creative freedom.

Overall, although the goal of both professions is to create intentional spaces for their clients, they differ slightly in various aspects, a major one being their clientele. Where commercial architects focus on creating spaces that align with the specified brand, aesthetic style and business goals, residential architects work with their clients to create homes that have a balance between interior design services and creative inspiration. However, as much as there are differences between the two professions, there are also some common factors which are evident. Understanding the differences and similarities between both is extremely important when looking for the perfect fit for your project, as you want to ensure you are hiring the right design firm for your project. If you are interested in creating a space that reflects your individuality, visit our website to view both our commercial and residential portfolio and contact our Connecticut interior designers today to get started.

Jenna Bond

Jenna Bond is a seasoned writer and a passionate advocate for interior and architectural design. With a keen eye for detail and a deep appreciation for the art of creating beautiful spaces, Jenna has established herself as a leading authority in the field.

As a dedicated writer for Stewart-Schäfer, Jenna has crafted a wealth of informative and inspiring content that caters to the needs and interests of design enthusiasts and professionals alike. Her articles, filled with expert insights and creative ideas, have become essential reading for those seeking to elevate their understanding of interior and architectural design.


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