warehouse design

Transforming a Warehouse Into a Retail Space With Clever Design

Transforming warehouses into homes has long been a trendy choice in urban markets like New York and Chicago. But cutting edge interior designers with an eye for architecture have recently been developing these warehouses into exciting and edgy retail spaces.

In a competitive market, industrial redevelopment turns abandoned eyesores into useful properties. Warehouses are often attractive to retailers with their “proximity to major transportation hubs and thoroughfares, high parking ratios, architectural interest, potential for open-plan layouts, and high ceilings. Industrial sites also usually are near water lines, sewage systems, roads, and utility lines.” Upgrading these spaces with clever design that utilizes the unique lines of the space provides a quality, low rent solution for growing businesses.

The creative possibilities of abandoned warehouses are infinite. Furniture retailer Hunt & Gather moved their showroom/gallery into a renovated warehouse to meet the needs of a younger, creative customer base. With the new open floor plan, Hunt & Gather can highlight the unique design of their wide variety of pieces. Taking warehouse design in a completely different direction, urban farmers are using industrial properties to provide green solutions to city spaces. Creative thinking allowed farmers to redesign warehouse spaces to grow plants indoors and control environmental factors like pesticides and climate change.

While an innovative solution, transforming warehouse spaces requires a professional team. Hiring an interior designer with experience in industrial design allows you to transform the unique features of the space from exposed pipes to vintage furniture to create the perfect look for your retail space while remaining safe and following established building codes. Contact openUU to brainstorm ideas for help designing the perfect industrial space for your company’s needs.

3 Ways to Tackle Loft Design


When looking at loft design, there are a few common challenges that should be considered: How does one deal with the industrial structures? Or how can space be redefined in changing situations? Here are three projects that approach warehouse and loft design in different ways, due to the functional and design needs of each client.

Oriental Warehouse Loft, for duplex-home living: This warehouse-cum-duplex in San Francisco took advantage of the natural wood beams and bare concrete walls to provide a sense of openness throughout the space. With window panels that make up the entire exterior wall, and clear, glass guardrails on the mezzanine allowed for an uninterrupted line-of-sight from upstairs to downstairs. With the mix of contemporary furniture, simple shelving, sleek finishes, and integrated shelving, the loft took advantage of every space and allowed it to flow gracefully throughout the loft. Overall, it allowed for a grand sense of space.

San Francisco warehouse conversion

San Francisco warehouse conversion

WCH 18A, for multi-purpose entertainment: This Hong Kong conversion was done in a former tea storage factory, and was designed to meet the needs of a fluctuating space that would serve as a private art gallery, social space, and weekend getaway. The movable metal-mesh panels helped create less or more space for gatherings that fluctuated in size, while also allowing for various pieces of art to be hung and displayed. The large windows lining the exterior wall, plus the outdoor terrace allows for lots of natural lighting. The design of the renovation took advantage of the warehouse’s structure and materials by integrating and laying bare the hard walls, floors, and metal fixtures. To add softer textures to the industrial features, soft rugs and plush seatings created a comfy atmosphere. Overall, the openness and simplicity to the floor plan allows for easy changes.


Multi-functional warehouse conversion in Hong Kong

Labahou project, as a creative household: This contemporary loft converted from a historic paper mill in France shows the simple marriage between industrial and rustic designs, in order to produce a peaceful setting for the family inhabiting the space. With the mix of metal structures in contemporary styles (such as the staircase) and natural wood beams, flooring, and furniture, the loft spaces created a nice contrast between natural and industrial, technology and simplicity. In addition, the white, black, and brown color schemes made the rooms brighter and bigger to the eyes. The large windows and multiple entrances to the patios helps facilitate an ease of movement from indoors to outside patios, leaving a peaceful imprint to the entire structure.

Paper Mill warehouse conversion in France

Paper Mill warehouse conversion in France

Finding that intricate balance between industrial and contemporary is one of the challeging, yet creative parts to loft or warehouse design. For more design ideas, contact us.

Warehouse Design: Making a Large Space Feel Welcoming

warehouse-design-large-spaceWhen considering a functional warehouse design, a number of factors come into play. What is the space going to be used for? How can it be transformed into something that is convenient and comfortable to both the occupants and their visitors? How can a large, empty space be made to feel welcoming?

Here are a few examples of different types of warehouses (from the news as well as our portfolio) along with explanations as to why they work.

Heavybit Industries – San Francisco, California, US

According to a report in Architectural Record, when faced with the dilemma of how to convert a warehouse into a communal space for cloud developers in 2012, CEO James Lindenbaum of Heavybit Industries enlisted the help of IwamotoScott Architecture. Like the name, Lindenbaum wanted a building that looked heavy and serious on the outside, in order to show the world that cloud development is a real thing.


Heavybit Industries by IwamotoScott Architecture. Photo by Bruce Damonte

Starting with a large open space on the ground level that was totally disconnected from the upper floors, the architects were able to divide that space into a common room with platform seating, as well as a conference room, kitchen, and a bike storage area that was defined by its refined wood wall. Upstairs, walls were removed to create open work stations. Sliding polycarbonate doors let in light. On the top level, breakout space was created using industrial rope and electrical conduit to maintain the heavy image, while providing space between the strands.

Osage Open – Kwun Tong, Hong Kong

In an industrial area of Hong Kong, we sought to create a useful indoor/ outdoor art gallery space for our client, Osage Gallery. We played on the existing concrete textures of the warehouse, incorporating it into the design through the use of a large drifting wooden box that can either be used as a unique art piece all on its own, or a functional element as a step in the gallery.


Osage Open by openUU.

The passageway was created to provide a fluid connection from the inside to the outside. With the exception of the wooden box, the inside area of this facility features spare white walls and plentiful lighting, ensuring that the focal point of the interior is the art, itself.

Residential Warehouse Conversion – Abbotsford, Victoria, Australia

With converting a commercial warehouse to a residential space, an emphasis was place not only on preserving the original industrial aspects, but also how to transform them into a cozy area. Warm hardwoods were placed alongside existing brick walls. Brightly colored rugs and accents — along with both natural and provided light — add coziness to concrete-floors and high, industrial beams.

warehouse-conversion-in-melbourne-7All three levels of this home — one of several converted warehouses listed and staged by the prestigious realty firm RT Edgar — provide unique features. A courtyard next to the bedroom and study on one floor, an open-plan living and dining space on the next, a master bedroom that takes advantage of the city views on the next.

Warehouses give you ample space for design. The challenge, then, becomes making that space something that feels warm and inviting. For more information on warehouse design or to talk to us about your next project, contact us.

5 Tips to Know Before Renovating a Warehouse

blog-5-tips-warehouseIt’s has become a trend to take old commercial warehouse spaces and repurpose them, such as converting it to loft apartments, restaurants, or office spaces. Before shelling out money to rent or purchase a warehouse space you’ve been eyeing, here are some tips and things to consider.

Purpose. What is the purpose of conversion? Is the current condition fit for the purpose, or will additional work need to be done? The needs from apartments, to restaurants, storage units, to office spaces can vary greatly, and the current condition may require a lot of time, effort, and money to get the unit where you want it to be.

Usage. This bring us to the next question, what type of usage is allowed for the unit. One of the most important things is to understand the zoning, rules and regulations of the building itself. What is included, and what is the owner usage when you rent or purchase the unit you are considering. If you are purchasing, is renting it out ok? If you plan on living in it, is the building fit for a dwelling?

Maintenance. Maintenance and upkeep for short and long term should be considered carefully. You should check how old the building is, and if the drainage system, electrical system needs to be replaced or repaired. If not immediately, then replacing these in the future can become costly.

Safety. In addition to upkeep and maintenance, the unit and building will have safety regulations. Typically there should be fire separation between units, and if new renovation is involved, this should be included in the process.

Renovation. Is there going to be interior design planning and renovation involved? Will you be re-locating the bathroom and plumbing system? Are you adding a kitchen, and is gas allowed in the building or is it even an option? If the building has an older plumbing system or no existing gas pipes, altering them can become costly.

Unless you have a structural engineer working with you, the structure probably cannot be altered. With a bit of design and innovation, the unit’s characteristics, such as raw finished walls, exposed bricks, or door ironmongery, can become a beautiful feature and focal point for the space.

For more ideas on what you need to do before you start your warehouse renovation, contact us today!