Commercial Designer Spotlight: Take 5 Commercial Interior Designer Leah
Creating compelling and practical commercial environments is a form of art that demands creativity, foresight, and a profound comprehension of the client’s requirements. In this commercial designer spotlight, we had the pleasure of interviewing talented commercial fitout designer, Leah Bennet. Take 5 and delve into her journey, her favourite industries to design for, advice for other upcoming designers, and much more!
With over six years of experience in the dynamic realm of commercial design, Leah has carved a niche for herself, excelling in both residential and commercial spaces through her venture, Leah Paige Designs. Her expertise extends across a diverse array of projects, including display homes, new builds, renovations, commercial office fitouts, commercial hospitality shopfits, commercial retail fitouts, and product design.
Leah loves being able to create immersive interiors for clients and having an impact on the customer experience and how people interact with the space. She also is a problem solving nerd and loves nutting out the finer details and working with tight spaces to provide smart design choices and the best solution for clients.
Leah’s academic journey, marked by a Bachelor of Design in Commercial from Billy Blue College of Design and a Bachelor of Arts in contemporary performance and theatre studies from WAAPA, underlines her commitment to excellence in the field. Starting only with Total Fitouts full time in August, she has come in and shown off her commercial design skills and put Total Fitouts Perth South on the map for commercial in-house design.
TFO: How did you get into design?
L: I always knew I wanted to be in the creative industry and do something where everyday was going to be different. Originally I went to WAAPA to study contemporary performance and theatre studies however after graduating and starting to get into industry, I realised that I wanted to be in a creative role with a bit more stability and I had always had a passion for design.
What this previous degree taught me though was how to think outside the box, how to evoke an emotional response from people within a space and how to recreate something from something existing. So while I didn’t choose to pursue my acting career, a lot of what I learnt in this degree actually influences the way that I design.
TFO: What made you gravitate towards commercial interior design vs other construction industry work?
L: I guess coming from the acting background, I really wanted to create immersive interiors that made people feel like they were entering into a new world and felt there was a lot more room to be creative and bold with commercial design as opposed to residential.
TFO: What are you favourite industries to design (commercial hospitality, commercial retail etc.)?
L: I love designing commercial hospitality fitouts. Especially when the clients have a strong brand and theme in mind then the design, brand and client experience all comes together. However, I would also love to do a hotel.
TFO: What is your design process and does it change depending on the commercial project?
L: Every client is different and every client’s goal for the end of the project is different. The first thing I like to do is meet with the client to determine their needs & wants, gain an understanding of how they operate and consider the best options to achieve the client’s vision.
TFO: What are your tips for collaborating with clients to create the best commercial fit out space?
L: I think it’s been a huge plus that through studying I have worked in so many different environments from retail, hospitality and office roles, because so much of what I bring to a project is having first hand knowledge as to problems your run into as a waitress, what works well when you’re working retail and understanding how large office environments best function and I like to bring this experience into the projects I work on.
TFO: What is your favourite thing about commercial interior design?
L: My favourite thing about commercial interior design is the fact that everything is different. And I love projects where absolutely everything has been thoroughly considered by the designer and client so the aesthetics of the interior connect right back to the brand.
TFO: What advice would you give someone looking to do commercial interior design?
L: Advice that I would give to someone looking to study commercial interior design is to gain as much experience in as many fields as possible; construction, work in retail if you want to do shops, work in a bar if you want to do hospitality. Get first hand experience as the user of the spaces you are going to design.
TFO: What are your upcoming trend predictions?
L: I think we’re going to become a lot bolder with colour and see a big shift away from white interiors (thankfully!). I think the idea of what a “neutral” is, is changing and I think we’re going to see a lot more colour on colour which is exciting because this is really where you need a designer to help you achieve that balance. Anyone can create a white and white interior.
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS
TFO: Working digital or hand drawing?
TFO: Favourite Project?
L: I have no specific ones I love yet as all Total Fitout ones are still a work in progress but I am loving the current ENT project we’re working on.
TFO: Best and worst commercial interior design trend?
L: I would have to say I don’t believe in trends. I don’t like the idea of following trends at all, so the worst trends are trends themselves where you end up with a heap of interior spaces that look the same. The best trends are not following any at all and working with the client to create a truly unique brand.
TFO: What is coming up (that you can tell us)?
L: I am currently working on a few medical spaces, a pizza cafe, and I recently completed a salon in a shopping centre and cosmetics injectables.
Learn more about Total Fitouts expert commercial designs here.
Whether you’re a designer interested in being featured in Commercial Designer Spotlight or you’re searching for your next dream design to fitout project, we invite you to reach out to Total Fitouts and contact us here to explore exciting opportunities and collaborations.