design standards

A comprehensive guide for interior designers on the importance of design standards and how to create and manage them.

The process for designing interior spaces is fragmented and requires interior designers to bring together disparate requirements into a cohesive spatial solution. Interior design software can help this process tremendously.


Interior designers produce various key deliverables throughout the design process to communicate ideas, concepts, and specifications to clients, contractors, and other stakeholders.

Some key deliverables include:

  1. What are design standards?
  2. What are design standard libraries in archictecture and interior design?
  3. what are examples of furniture and fixture standard libraries?

What are design standards?

Design standards in architecture and interior design are guidelines, regulations, or best practices that establish criteria for the planning, design, construction, and occupancy of buildings and interior spaces. These standards are developed by industry organizations, government agencies, professional associations, and other authoritative bodies to ensure the safety, functionality, accessibility, sustainability, and aesthetic quality of built environments.

Here are some common types of design standards in architecture and interior design:

  • Building Codes: Building codes are legal regulations that govern the construction and occupancy of buildings. They address various aspects of building design and construction, including structural integrity, fire safety, accessibility, plumbing, electrical systems, and energy efficiency. Building codes are enforced by local authorities to ensure that buildings meet minimum safety standards.
  • Accessibility Standards: Accessibility standards, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States, establish requirements for making buildings and facilities accessible to people with disabilities. These standards address features such as ramps, doorways, corridors, elevators, signage, and restroom facilities to ensure equal access for all individuals.
  • Environmental Standards: Environmental standards promote sustainable design practices and minimize the environmental impact of buildings. They address issues such as energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, materials selection, and waste management. Certification programs like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) provide guidelines for achieving green building certification.
  • Health and Safety Standards: Health and safety standards aim to protect occupants from hazards and ensure a healthy indoor environment. They address factors such as ventilation, lighting, acoustics, ergonomics, and hazardous materials to promote occupant well-being and comfort.
  • Design Guidelines: Design guidelines provide recommendations and best practices for achieving functional, aesthetic, and cultural objectives in building design. They may address topics such as building orientation, massing, facade design, landscaping, and historical preservation to ensure compatibility with the surrounding context and community.
  • Furniture and Fixture Standards: Furniture and fixture standards establish criteria for selecting and specifying furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) for interior spaces. They may address factors such as durability, ergonomics, sustainability, and compliance with regulatory requirements to ensure quality and performance (read more about ff&e).

By adhering to design standards, architects and interior designers can create spaces that are safe, accessible, sustainable, and visually appealing, while also meeting the needs and preferences of their clients and users. Compliance with standards helps mitigate risks, improve building performance, and enhance the overall quality of the built environment.

What are design standard libraries in archictecture and interior design?

Design standard libraries in architecture and interior design are collections of pre-defined design elements, components, details, and specifications that can be used as templates or references in the design process. These libraries typically contain a range of standard components and details that comply with industry standards, building codes, and best practices. Design standard libraries serve as valuable resources for architects, interior designers, and other design professionals, enabling them to streamline the design process, ensure consistency, and improve efficiency.

Here are some common types of design standard libraries:

  • CAD Libraries: Computer-aided design (CAD) libraries contain digital drawings, blocks, symbols, and templates of common architectural and interior design elements. These libraries may include standard floor plans, elevations, sections, details, furniture layouts, and equipment arrangements that can be easily inserted into CAD software for use in project drawings.
  • BIM Libraries: Building Information Modeling (BIM) libraries contain parametric 3D models of building components, systems, and materials. BIM libraries may include standard architectural elements (such as walls, doors, windows, and stairs), MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) components, furniture, fixtures, and finishes. BIM objects in these libraries are typically intelligent and contain information about dimensions, materials, performance characteristics, and cost.
  • Material Libraries: Material libraries provide information and samples of various building materials, finishes, and products commonly used in architecture and interior design. These libraries may include samples of flooring, wall finishes, ceiling materials, countertops, cabinetry, hardware, lighting fixtures, and textiles. Material libraries help designers explore different options, compare specifications, and make informed decisions about material selection.
  • Furniture and Fixture Libraries: Furniture and fixture libraries contain catalogs of standard furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) that can be used in interior design projects. These libraries may include 3D models, specifications, and pricing information for a wide range of furniture items, including seating, tables, storage units, lighting fixtures, appliances, and accessories. Furniture and fixture libraries help designers visualize and specify FF&E items that meet the functional, aesthetic, and budgetary requirements of their projects (read more about catalogs).
  • Detail Libraries: Detail libraries contain standard construction details, assemblies, and specifications for various building components and systems. These libraries may include details for foundations, walls, roofs, windows, doors, stairs, and other architectural elements. Detail libraries help designers ensure that construction details meet industry standards, building codes, and performance requirements while also promoting consistency and efficiency in detailing.

Design standard libraries are valuable resources for design professionals, providing access to a wealth of pre-defined design elements and specifications that can be leveraged to streamline the design process, improve accuracy, and enhance the quality of architectural and interior design projects.

what are examples of furniture and fixture standard libraries?

Examples of furniture and fixture libraries include:

  • Manufacturer Websites: Many furniture manufacturers and suppliers provide online catalogs or libraries of their products, including 3D models, specifications, and pricing information. Designers can access these libraries to explore a wide range of furniture options, such as seating, tables, storage units, lighting fixtures, and accessories.
  • SketchUp 3D Warehouse: SketchUp 3D Warehouse is an online repository of 3D models for SketchUp users. It contains a vast collection of user-contributed 3D models, including furniture, fixtures, appliances, and architectural elements. Designers can search and download SketchUp models from the 3D Warehouse to incorporate into their SketchUp projects.
  • Canoa Public Catalogs: Canoa is an online BIM tool for architects and interior designers and has a vast repository of furniture and fixture specifications that is automatically maintained via API to many manufacturer's online catalogs. Learn more about catalogs.
  • BIMobject: BIMobject is a digital platform that offers a comprehensive library of BIM objects for architects, designers, and construction professionals. It features a wide range of manufacturer-specific BIM objects, including furniture, fixtures, equipment, and building materials. Designers can search and download BIM objects from BIMobject's library to integrate into their BIM projects.
  • CAD Blocks Free: CAD Blocks Free is a website that provides free CAD blocks and symbols for AutoCAD users. It offers a variety of CAD blocks for furniture, fixtures, equipment, and architectural elements, including 2D and 3D blocks in DWG and DXF formats. Designers can download CAD blocks from CAD Blocks Free's library to use in their CAD drawings and designs.

These are just a few examples of furniture and fixture libraries that designers can access to find a wide range of products and components for their architectural and interior design projects. Depending on their specific software preferences and project requirements, designers may explore additional resources and platforms to find suitable furniture and fixture options.


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