Finding a Design you can love

The design teams at Knoxville-based Studio Four Design have worked by our mantra of Design Matters for clients in a number of industries and one of the most common themes that we have found in our experience is the importance of finding a design that you can love. With today being Valentine’s Day, love can mean a number of different things to different people, but when you are creating a space for your retail or restaurant business, having a design that you love can mean all of the difference in the world.

Loving your retail or restaurant design doesn’t mean that you have to spend an exorbitant amount on your exterior and interior designs; loving your retail or restaurant design means finding a combination of functionality, practicality and personality that can help you differentiate your business from your competitors, offering an inviting atmosphere that welcomes your customers and looking at your retail or restaurant location with pride each and every day.

Before offering a design for your retail or restaurant space, the teams at Studio Four Design meet with clients to help them determine the best strategy to help deliver the finished product that they would like to own. There are a number of factors that need to be considered for both retail and restaurant spaces, including:

Real Estate Requirements:
If a client has an existing piece of property that they are going to use, what are the requirements for the space? Is the infrastructure in place, from utilities to parking space, to support the project? Are there requirements for building exteriors that must be followed to be in compliance? While there may be limitations placed upon the designs, based upon local codes, the teams at Studio Four Design can work within these requirements to meet the vision that our clients have in mind.

Franchise Regulations:
If the new space is a part of a franchise agreement, understanding the franchise requirements that are in place is a key component of the design. While some franchises have few restrictions on what can be done for a new locations, others have more stringent demands on what can and can’t be done for a franchise location. Although franchisors may demand certain conditions for their franchisees, the team at Studio Four Design can help maximize opportunities for our clients for design.

Interior Design:
One aspect of retail and restaurant design that is often overlooked, but is extremely important to showcase your space, is the choices related to interior design. Incorporating an interior design plan that welcomes customers, highlights your products or menu choices and helps to create a feeling of hospitality that will allow your retail or restaurant space to not only entice customers to visit, but to encourage them to return. The interior design teams at Studio Four Design have worked with clients across industries to deliver designs that exceeds our customers’ expectations while following code guidelines and requirements related to the specific customer needs.

While no two retail or restaurant spaces are the same, our team at Studio Four Design has worked with our clients to deliver outstanding results using our mantra that Design Matters. If you are planning a retail or restaurant project and are interested in leveraging the award winning capabilities of our design staff, contact Studio Four Design today to learn how we can assist you with your next project.

Is your Architect listening to you?

For the design team at Knoxville-based Studio Four Design, we live by a simple mantra: Design Matters. Whether we are designing an intimate worship facility, an innovative retail space or the home of a client’s dreams, our architects and interior designers work closely with our clients to help deliver a solution that will inspire and enthrall them for years to come.

Delivering architectural designs that meet client expectations can be a lengthy and involved process at times. The needs and requirements of a client can occasionally be in juxtaposition with architectural requirements due to varying complications, including site selection, local zoning requirements, budgets and a host of other factors. Our architects and interior designers work closely with our clients to help them understand the parameters of what can be created within these constraints to find a common ground to create what the client is looking for.

The prevailing thought for our team can be summed up by the following quote:

“Many can hear, fewer listen and only a handful can effectively execute what was said to begin with.”

If you have worked with an architect or architectural firm in the past and have felt as if they were not truly listening to you, understanding the characteristics of a good listener can help you better determine if they are following your vision or their own. For a designer to be a good listener, they must:

Ask good questions. If your architect listens to your vision and doesn’t offer questions or asks for clarification of your points, the likely conclusion is that they are not truly listening to what you have to say about your project. A good architect has done their homework in advance of your initial consultation and knows the right questions to ask about the problem you need to solve.  They will dive in and probe for deeper understanding of what you are hoping to accomplish.

Be focused and engaged. A good architect will be engaged in conversations and focused on the ideas and concepts that you are presenting. If your architect is distracted by other tasks at hand or is automatically making too many references to similar projects that they can adapt for your solution, the likelihood of you getting something original is low and being unhappy with the design is high.

Document and summarize discussions: As you are explaining your hopes and desires for the project that you are hoping to create with an architect, the lack of note-taking may be a sign that your architect is not fully engaged with your project. An architect that is taking notes, interjecting questions for clarification at the appropriate time and who summarizes your discussion at the end and then follows that up in writing is more likely to understand the goals for your project.

Clarify, not assume: In the same way that a good architect will be taking notes to understand your salient points in regards to your design ideas, a good architect will ask for clarification instead of making an assumption on what hoping to accomplish. Time and money can be wasted in the design process if your architect assumes that your design will need to incorporate some elements that may need to be eliminated or revised due to a lack of understanding.

Present alternatives: Sometimes, there are things a client requests that are not always achievable or practical for a variety of reasons. An architect that is listening to you and engaging in the process will offer creative alternative solutions for consideration that can be a remedy to a potential issue that may not have occurred to you.  Or after evaluating and considering everything they have heard from you they may simply pose another way of creatively solving the problem that you may not have considered. An architect that is not listening to you may gloss over these potential problems or present only one option incorporating more of their own ideas, instead of presenting a solution to you that offers the best potential for a win-win.

There are many designers who take the position that their ideas are what’s best for the situation regardless of how well they respond to what the client has requested. For the designers at Knoxville-based Studio Four Design, our ideology of “Design Matters” means that we focus obsessively on meeting the needs of our clients through design inspiration, hard work and a sense of collaboration between our teams and our clients to create memorable solutions from complex problems. If you are interested in learning how you can leverage the knowledge and expertise of our architects to create a worship facility, retail center, office environment or a home design that you have dreamed of, contact Studio Four Design today.

Studio Four Design 2016 Year in Review

As we enter into the end of 2016, the team at Studio Four Design in Knoxville has been taking a look back at an amazing year for our team. From industry recognition to new work that we have designed for our clients, everyone at Studio Four is grateful for an outstanding 2016 and is looking forward to what we will accomplish in 2017!

Highlights from this year for Studio Four Design include: Studio Four Design 2016 Year in Review

Our Awards: This year, Studio Four Design was graced with a number of awards, including the 2016 Knox Heritage “Fantastic Fifteen” Preservation Award, a 2016 Solomon Award for our work with Northstar Church, as well as our debut on the prestigious Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 5000 List”  of the fastest growing business in 2016.

Partnerships and Features: 2016 was an amazing year for Studio Four Design with new partnerships, including work on an industry recognized design for Walker’s Automotive, an eco-park design that we created in collaboration with DENSO Manufacturing and a new dealership facility for the Doug Justus Auto Center in Knoxville. In addition, Studio Four Design was featured in a national book about Employee Engagement, recognizing our development of new techniques while also working with a growing pie franchise to ensure their brand consistency.

Church and Worship Facility Design and Engagement: A hallmark of our capabilities in 2016 was the work that the Studio Four Design teams accomplished for church and worship facility design and engagement throughout the year. Studio Four Design worked with Grace Christian Academy in Knoxville on their new athletics facility, were selected for a new church renovation for OneLife Church while Stacy Cox, architect and principal of Studio Four Design, was selected to speak at the WFX 2016 Conference on ‘How Design Can Influence Your Ministry’.

Team Growth: 2016 marked another milestone for the team at Studio Four Design, as we reached the 20 employee mark, the largest staff in our history. Our new hires in 2016 included Michelle Barton, who joined our team in April of 2016 and Matt Johnson, who was hired in May of 2016.

Giving Back: The team at Studio Four Design is dedicated to stewardship for our community, which included a number of outreach programs in 2016. This year marked the 10th year that we have provided Thanksgiving for women in transitional housing at the YWCA, while we also participated in the “Canstruction 2016” event on behalf of 2nd Harvest Food Bank. Our teams also worked on the Rebuild Together project this year, which provide an accessible ramp and art studio for a disabled veteran in our area. One of the most important projects that we were honored to work on this year involved our work with Whitestone Church & Partners in Hope to raise $25,000 to start Phase 1 of the Sports & Discipleship project in Grand Goave, Haiti. We have been honored to give back to those in need in 2016 and we are looking forward to even more projects in the coming year.

2016 was the year that Studio Four Design of Knoxville celebrated our 14th anniversary and the team at Studio Four Design is honored by the awards, recognition that we have received this year and are looking forward to new challenges and opportunities to give back in 2017. If you are interested in learning more about the architecture and design capabilities of Studio Four Design in Knoxville and how our team can assist you with your next project in the coming year, contact us today.


Grace Baptist Church Unveils New Student Ministry Center Designed by Studio Four Design

Local church celebrates the opening of new 24,000 square foot student ministry center, designed by Knoxville-based architectural and design firm, this past Sunday

Grace Student Ministry Center - Designed by Studio Four Design - Knoxville Tennessee

The new Grace Baptist Church student ministry center, designed by Studio Four Design and built by Merit Construction, features a 700 seat auditorium, a lobby with a café, a large game room, staff offices, meeting rooms and quiet spaces for studying and small group fellowship. Photos courtesy of Merit Construction.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. December 20, 2016 – Grace Baptist Church, a Knoxville-based church with the goal of changing lives that change the world, celebrated the opening of their new 24,000 square foot student ministry center, designed by worship facility specialists and top architecture and design firm Studio Four Design, this past Sunday, December 18.

The new facility, which was built by Merit Construction, features a 700 seat auditorium, a lobby with a café, a large game room, staff offices, meeting rooms and quiet spaces for studying and small group fellowship.

“The theme behind this new student center is ‘a third place,’” said Bobby Thompson, student pastor at Grace Baptist Church. “Students spend time at home and they spend time at school, and after these two places, nearly all of them have a third place that they spend time at. We want this building to be that third place.”

The previous student ministry took place in a shared space, however about two and a half years ago, the leadership at Grace Baptist Church felt like it was time to make the move to a dedicated facility because they had student services that were reaching max capacity. With the help of Studio Four Design, they dreamed up visions of what they wanted the new space to look and feel like, and began building concepts.

“Studio Four was very resourceful and instrumental in the creative process,” said Thompson. “They’re very knowledgeable, and I can ask questions – even ones that don’t have to do with architecture or design – and they’ll answer them. They sat down with me and asked about our vision and what we wanted to accomplish. We took that conversation and together we designed each space in the new center intentionally.”

“When adding to your campus, it’s so important that you discover what aligns with your goals as a church,” said Stacy Cox, president of Studio Four Design. “When we began working with Bobby and the rest of the leadership at Grace, we knew that first and foremost we wanted an auditorium that would handle the amount of students that they currently have while also keeping an eye on growth in the future. Once we knew that, and the theme of ‘a third place,’ we were able to work together to come up with some really interesting concepts that encourage students to spend time at the center.”

For more information about Grace Baptist Church and the new student ministry center, visit

For more information about Studio Four Design, visit

About Grace Baptist Church

Founded in 1916, Grace Baptist Church’s goal is to change lives that change the world. They believe that this can only be achieved by sharing Christ with others through “Developing Disciples Who Develop Disciples.” Grace offers two services on Sunday morning, along with bible studies and other activities throughout the week. To find out more, call 865-691-8886 or visit

About Studio Four Design Inc.

Since 2002, Studio Four Design has served as a premiere architectural and interior design firm to the Greater Knoxville Area. Their guiding principal is Design Matters and their goal is to go beyond expectations to provide design solutions that positively impact their client’s lives and organizations. Their team has worked on a variety of projects over the last decade that includes: churches, educational facilities, restaurants, retail buildings, athletic venues and much more. Studio Four Design takes pride and dedication in all of their projects they serve. To find out more, call 865-523-5001 or visit


Heather Ripley
Ripley PR

Why you need to hire a church design expert and not just an architect

The end of the calendar year is often a time when many churches begin planning for 2017 and beyond for capital improvements or upgrades to their existing facilities and worship centers. With church construction expenditures totaling $3.4 billion dollars in 2016 with a projected increase of over 4 percent expected in 2017, finding ways to maximize dollars that are raised towards expanding ministries may lead some church leaders to select partners for their building projects that may not deliver the desired results for sustainable growth.

Hiring a church design expert, and not simply an architect who may be unfamiliar with the needs of a place of worship, can allow your church to realize a greater return on your investment in your facilities.  For the church design experts at Studio Four Design, our knowledge and expertise in a variety of worship facility projects allows us to bring a unique perspective to our church clients.

In our experience, when your church or worship center is asking its congregation or members for a large capital investment, stewardship is an important point of emphasis for the design and creation of your space. The analogy that we allude to in our work is based upon the ideas of specialists; if you have a specific health or legal issue, you will consult with a doctor or lawyer who is a specialist in their chosen field. The same holds true for church and worship center design; instead of working with an architect who is a generalist in design, consulting and working with specialists in church design, like the team at Studio Four Design, can help you create specialized solutions specific for your individual needs.

There are a number of ways a firm that focuses on church facility design can help advance your project more smoothly, including:

Knowledge and Expertise: Specific problems related to church design are better suited for success when leveraging the knowledge and expertise of a specialist who has dealt with them before. Church designers can leverage a breadth of collective experience to solve problems specifically related to the needs of your church, while adding value in the planning process to help ensure an overall smooth delivery process. Our team’s experience can bring a new perspective to your church by asking specific questions and offering insights based on prior successes and lessons learned.  Our knowledge and experience can help to identify potential opportunities and obstacles that can be addressed in the planning stages and set the table for a successful design process.

Value: Experts in church design can bring higher value propositions to clients, based upon a broad scope view of what needs to be accomplished. A church design expert should be able to look beyond strictly “bricks and mortar” concepts in the design process and identify any components of the project that could impact or delay the building process and those that might add additional expense that should be considered within project and construction budgets. At Studio Four Design, our church design team can add value in this process through our experience to help develop realistic budgets and identify design alternatives to develop solutions to help enhance the mission of your church.

Teamwork: When you are searching for a church designer, understand that an expert may be more local than you may think. Although the expert you need may not reside in your particular town, through the application of technology they can be easily accessible via online meetings and web based project command centers that enhance project team communication. From a teamwork perspective, the use of technology can allow nearly instantaneous access to the design team, while decreasing costs associated with multiple travel expenses, thus allowing your church to save on expenditures. When you work with our team, you are working with a close-knit group who takes inspiration in solving problems for our clients.  This sense of teamwork and collaboration extends to how our team does business with our clients as well. In addition to our capabilities to utilize technology to facilitate the design process, our firm has also worked in association local architects to deliver projects.  Collaboration with a local design partner allows us to bring our specific experience to the church while using the local professional to help the team deal with local codes, zoning and other conditions that may be unique to the permitting and construction process.  In addition, a local partner can assist with drawing production, peer review, and quality control during construction.  This allows our clients to access our expertise while taking advantage of local familiarity and accessibility.

If your church or worship center is ready to expand your existing space or develop a brand new facility in 2017, taking advantage of our knowledge and expertise can help you to develop a design solution that will help you advance your mission. To learn more about our experience in church facility design, please contact Studio Four Design today to let our church design experts guide you through the process.