Architect vs. office designer: what’s the difference?

Interior designer. Architect. Draftsperson. Decorator. With so many different options when it comes to creating office interiors, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed from the outset. In this blog we’ll discuss the main differences between an architect and an office designer or fitout specialist (like the team at Formline Group).

The Office Designer/Fitout Specialist

Each company offering commercial interior design and fitouts will be slightly different, with varying levels of expertise and service offerings. It’s most likely though that a reputable team such as Formline Group will offer many years’ experience specifically working on commercial interiors. A great commercial designer will have exceptional research capabilities combined with the right experience to design and deliver the ideal workspace for your team.

Many will have skills and experience in:

  • Drafting plans and drawings through CAD or 3D design technology
  • Spatial assessment and planning
  • Furniture and fittings sourcing and fitout
  • Office space risk assessment
  • Design and decorative consultation
  • Relevant state and federal design regulations

The Architect

If you are hiring a licensed architect, they will be “board certified” which means they are legally able to complete work using the title of ‘architect’. Hmm what does this mean? To be board certified, an architect must have:

  • An architecture university degree (usually 5 – 6 years of study)
  • A minimum level of practical work experience (2 years)
  • Successful completion and passing of architecture exams

For their registration to be renewed annually, an architect has to also make a formal declaration that they are fit to practice, and are furthering their professional development with required number of hours of study and learning.

Architects study for many years to be able to practice their trade. There are a number of reasons for this, particularly for when it comes to the diverse architectural work that is available and the skills required for some of these projects. But at Formline Group, we encourage you to consider the alternative – an office designer/fitout specialist with commercial interiors experience. This choice can truly determine the success of your office project.


So why hire an office designer/fitout specialist instead of an architect?


At Formline Group, one thing is for certain: we specialise in commercial designs and fitouts only. That means we’re highly experienced in an important niche and now how to deliver successful fitouts that truly meet your design needs. We’ve delivered countless office interiors projects across NSW and beyond— on time, on budget, and to the highest of design and regulatory standards.


Our team is focused above all on the happiness of our clients. We don’t come into any project with a defined vision until we have a complete grasp of your needs and design preferences. We’ll then strategise, design and put forth our professional recommendations, working with your team to come to a mutual plan that works for you.


Our clients often make note of how friendly and accessible we are at Formline Group. We won’t charge an extra “consultation fee” every time we speak on the phone. We’ll never call a job finished until you and your team are completely satisfied with the results. For us, the work we do in commercial interiors is all about you and your company.


Architectural costs are complex and the fact is that architects demand some hefty fees. Whether or not the cost of architectural fees is justified for your project is a judgment only you can make. We can assure you that at Formline Group, budget and fees are discussed transparently and clearly throughout the entire process so that there are no surprises.

Thinking an office fitout specialist is the right choice for you? Reach out to our team at Formline Group HERE for a chat!

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