IN THE MOOD
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!