Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - FRONT PAGE -

It doesn’t have to be a for­mal mech­a­nism – it can be sim­ply putting a group of sam­ples and im­ages to­gether on a ta­ble, mov­ing things around to see if they work bet­ter one way or an­other, re­mov­ing the things that jar on the eye and look­ing to see if any­thing is miss­ing that would help pull things to­gether.

Take lots of pho­tos at each stage. can re­mem­ber work­ing along­side Mar­i­anne Shilling­ford, now cre­ative di­rec­tor of Du­lux, with a client who was in the process of hav­ing a new

Ihouse built and was at that in­evitable point of feel­ing over­whelmed by the mul­ti­tude of de­ci­sions needed on fin­ishes for floors, win­dows, cab­i­netry etc.

Mar­i­anne knelt on the floor and started play­ing with [ sorry, ex­pertly ar­rang­ing!] the sam­ples and in a minute or two a co­her­ent scheme emerged. Our client looked at Mar­i­anne in awe as a beau­ti­ful or­der emerged out of seem­ing chaos. I learnt a les­son that day – apart from don’t work with some­one who has the abil­ity to up­stage you at ev­ery turn, damn it Mar­i­anne.

A more for­mal ap­proach is to phys­i­cally make a mood board by col­lect­ing sam­ples and im­ages and plac­ing them on a large piece of card­board and play­ing around un­til you feel the colours and fin­ishes work, and then stick­ing them down.

There is some­thing sat­is­fy­ing in the mak­ing – play­ing with scis­sors and glue and dou­ble sided sticky tape! The real plus though, is the way it grounds de­ci­sions – you know once it is stuck down, chang­ing it will mean a whole new mood board, so it makes you think care­fully. You should be us­ing real sam­ples wher­ever pos­si­ble, as no im­age gets colour and tex­ture re­pro­duc­tion ac­cu­rately enough and the process of han­dling and mak­ing the board gives you an­other di­men­sion on the de­sign. It’s a bit like slow cook­ing – tak­ing time al­lows for bet­ter re­sults.

By far the most pop­u­lar way now is dig­i­tal.

Ev­ery de­sign con­scious web­site seems to have a ‘ save to mood board’ fa­cil­ity, and of course Pin­ter­est is it­self one gi­gan­tic mood board.

I tend to use Du­lux Trade Paint Ex­pert for In­te­rior De­sign­ers, a tablet app that I find both flex­i­ble and sim­ple to use [ the lat­ter be­ing ex­tremely im­por­tant!]. Try it for your­self – it’s good enough not to be kept a trade se­cret.

The real plus of the dig­i­tal ap­proach is its speed – a real mood board takes plan­ning and up to a cou­ple of hours in the mak­ing, whereas a dig­i­tal one can be started and fin­ished in 15 min­utes. This means you can make many different ones which gives greater choice and you can learn a lot from that. The down­side is, of course, you are not us­ing real sam­ples. Colour res­o­lu­tion of different screens is an is­sue that will never be re­solved but is a vi­tal com­po­nent of any scheme, pos­si­bly the most im­por­tant el­e­ment.

Tex­ture too, al­though more ac­cu­rately ren­dered dig­i­tally, is key. Some fab­rics, for ex­am­ple, just don’t feel good to the touch, or it may be more flimsy or stiff than you had imag­ined. So make sure that de­ci­sions are not fi­nalised without get­ting your hands on the real thing.

All mood boards are sim­ply an aid not the thing it­self. They don’t con­vey, for in­stance, scale and pro­por­tion. But noth­ing takes the place of re­al­ity – even with some of the new gen­er­a­tion vir­tual re­al­ity de­vel­op­ments.

I was lucky enough to go to Venice last year, a city I felt I knew well from the thou­sands of im­ages and pro­grammes I had seen about it. But noth­ing took the place of be­ing there, im­mersed in it, us­ing all five senses to ex­pe­ri­ence it, breath­ing a different air in a different light. And it’s the same with de­sign – re­al­ity is al­ways slightly different to the plan­ning.

Not, by any many of means, worse, happy ac­ci­dents adding to the over­all look. Of course, that’s when I say that of course I knew this would hap­pen!

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