Inside the TDC&Co Drawing Studio From Design to Reality

Our notion of design is that by the time we’ve laid eyes on a floorplan or a 3D mockup of a space, the work’s done. All that remains is to set a deadline, book the construction team and lay bricks to mortar, right? The answer is a resounding no. In fact, the details and technicalities involved in bringing a design to life is the most massive and complex phase of the entire process.


So, how do they do it? What happens between the dream (the design) and reality (the final space), and who or what makes it all happen?


Picture it. You’ve just bought your 7-year-old a brand-new Lego Death Star. You marvel at the intricacies of the design and how those clever Danes managed to mimic the shape and look of the most iconic weapon of mass destruction in all of sci-fidom using a carefully curated collection of small, connectable blocks. At some point someone said, “I know, let’s do a Death Star with Lego,” leaving someone else to bring it all together using a very specific set of materials.


To pull it off not only requires a high level of technical knowledge and expertise, but the added ability to think creatively within highly confined parameters. Every step comes with a fresh set of challenges and every problem must be resolved…in time for that all-important open day.


In the Details

“The Drawing Studio is the engine that brings the design to life,” says Debbie Kaye, Drawing Studio Manager at TDC&Co. “We bring all the elements together to function as the concept designer envisioned.”


Basically, the drawing studio is the Santa’s Workshop of the retail design process. Once the design gets sign-off from the client, it gets scrutinised and dissected by the designers and detailers to literally break each element into the sum of its parts.


The Drawing Studio is made up of three parts:

  1. Detailing, where the various elements of the designs are unpacked holistically, from the store front to the back door, and everything in between,
  2. Technical, which interprets the concept designs, architectural drawings and engineer designs to create a construction manual for an implementation team to build the design, and
  3. Compliance, which ensures the final design complies to local authority and that the client can trade when the store opens.


Striking a Chord

From here, Design, Detail and Technical work in constant synergy to bring aesthetics, function, budget and logistics together, creating a harmonious whole.



“We’re always asking, how can we make it more cost effective, reduce waste and ensure design integrity is not compromised in the process,” says Debbie. “We’re also constantly interacting with shopfitters, contractors and suppliers to assist us in terms of material limitations, keeping us up-to-date with the latest developments in construction and national building regulations.”



Over and above the material demands, there are also building codes to consider. “Meeting the demands of South African national building regulations (SANS10400) adds yet another layer of complexity to the working drawings,” says Craig Knight, the Drawing Studio’s BIM Manager. “The one thing that never changes, though, is the store’s launch date, so it’s a constant race against time without compromising on accuracy.”


That Personal Touch

In the end, however, nothing competes with the knowledge and expertise – the personal experience and relationships the Drawing Studio builds up over time – that makes the team so effective. With every new project, they build extremely detailed records of their dealings with everyone at every local council, mall and business park.


“Everyone works differently,” says Debbie, “Every designer, client, consultant, engineer and project manager bring their own nuances and industry experience to a project. Capturing this knowledge is integral to TDC&Co’s functioning as a whole.”


The Pack

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the construction set of drawings. Leaving no stone unturned, the construction set functions like an instruction manual (and contract) for every member of the implementation team to follow. It coordinates all service disciplines, contractor information and design requirements, as well as the finer details of the 3D drawings of every shelf, bracket and piece of furniture.


What happens in the Drawing Studio is arguably the most invisible part of the process. But therein lies the magic. The most successful stores are the ones where you, as a customer, are blissfully unaware of the nuts and bolts behind the experience.


Did you know?

Although TDC&Co provides full turnkey brand design, interior design, drawing, procurement and building solutions for big brand retailers, we’re happy to assist you – no matter how big or small your business.


Contact Tanya Manterfield at to get the ball rolling.


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