1. What is a mood board? (Free Preview)

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What is a mood board? A mood board is a layout or arrangement of images, materials, text, colours, fabric swatches, or textures, designed to create a feeling, concept, style, or ‘mood’. For the artist, this is an invaluable addition to the design process, because, like writing ideas down, the action of organizing your thoughts, arranging the styles and materials together, and selecting the appropriate materials can move you from ideas to a concept, which you can use to create a finalized design.


Design typically begins with an idea, which usually has a defined problem or cause.  You move on to collect information, research, brainstorm and analyse your ideas, and then on to the development (or Prototyping) phase. A moodboard bridges the gap between concept and design by allowing you to bring your ideas into a cohesive whole with a visual representation of what you aim to achieve.

The process of creating a moodboard can help you to brainstorm, work out ideas, and settle on colours, textures, patterns, and design elements. When finished, the completed piece can be invaluable for taking your ideas to a funding committee, to crowd funding, or to marketing after the product is completed.


(Photo courtesy of Florina Serban)

In this lesson:

  • 1.1. Understanding Moodboards
  • 1.2. Moodboards in Creative Industries
  • 1.3. Moodboards & Shoes


1.1. Understanding Moodboards

Moodboards are visual guides that can help a designer or other creative professionals to make aesthetic or goal related choices before a project begins. They come in different varieties such as analogue or digital, but are, at the core, a physical or digital presentation that visually captures the mood or idea of a project.

Most designers either love or hate moodboards. For example, where Spanish fashion-designer Manolo Blahnik is famously contemptuous of using creative design aids of any kind, Sandra Choi, Creative Director at Jimmy Choo (J. Choo Limited) heavily advocates their use. For most designers, moodboards serve a creative, time saving role that is difficult to replace or do without.

However, it is important to consider that the value of a moodboard depends on its role, goals, and the effort put into its construction. A quality moodboard could include multiple elements such as:

  •      The product goal
  •      Style
  •      Materials
  •      Textures and Patterns
  •      Colours and Prints
  •      Mood or Emotion
  •      Design Inspiration
  •      Audience
  •      Images
  •      Sketches

For example, a moodboard with the creative goal of a day to night brogue shoe for women might include swatches of leather, brogue patterns, a colour palette, accessories such as a work handbag, a woman in transit, a selection of drawings or photos of similar shoes, and design ideas for the shoe. This concept incorporates aesthetics, technical aspects, realistic design, function, and style – which come together to aid you in conceptualizing your own design. This also allows you to capture trends and ideas to help you meet consumer wants and needs in your own design.

In practice, this allows you to see project goals at a glance, so that during the design process, you have your creative ideas organized in a way that is easy to access and utilize. However, moodboards are also useful for advertising, creative campaigns, and fundraising in addition to product conceptualization. If you’re working with a manufacturer, moodboards are an invaluable tangible resource to refer to alongside your sketches, 3D renderings, or prototypes.

Essentially, the moodboard is a creative tool that can help you to save time by organizing your thoughts, ideas, and inspiration into one place. It can be as large or as small as you want, but it should focus on a single goal, and every element should align with that goal.


1.2. Moodboards in Creative Industries

To understand the value of a moodboard, one must look no further than the professional practices of other creative industries, including a variety of artistic and innovate businesses outside of the fashion industry.

Moodboards are commonly used in almost every creative industry including graphic design, interior design, industrial design, advertising, photography and art, fashion design, and textile design. Most importantly, the prominent usage of moodboards across the creative niche is grounded in their ability to provide value to a design project.

A quality moodboard creates a solid foundation for a design. The process of collating colours, imagery, styles, textures, materials, and inspiration together onto one board allows you to conceptualize your ideas, visualize colours and patterns, and remove unwanted or unnecessary elements before beginning the design process. When collaborating with multiple designers, a moodboard can be crucial for ensuring that everyone is on the same page, while allowing each person to contribute to the design at a stage where elements are dynamic enough to easily adjust, remove, or exchange.

For that reason, moodboards are one of the few tools that remain useful throughout the entire process of design – from concept creation to product distribution.


1.3. Moodboards & Shoes

Shoes, like other types of fashion, bridge the gap between art and practical use items, allowing you to take your designs wherever you want them. For this reason, moodboards can aid you in making directional decisions, when communicating your ideas to a manufacturer, and when choosing materials suitable for your project.

If you are not a designer yourself, moodboards can help you to communicate directly with your shoe designer to ensure that your ideas and style decisions come through in the final product. A moodboard is a reference point that you can use to as a guideline during the design process. For example, your moodboard should help you answer the following questions:

  •      What is the shoe for?
  •      Who will wear these shoes?
  •      What materials do you want to use?
  •      Why would someone wear this shoe?
  •      Does this shoe have a personality?
  •      Do you have design elements like texture, colour, and style?
  •      Is this shoe inspired by other shoes?
  •      What design elements like wing tips or vamp are you using?
This first lesson is free. To access the full guide, please purchase it here
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