Inspiration, Theme, Mood, Concept – How do they differ?
It’s important to understand that not every collection needs to have every kind of board. Based on what you’re designing you can figure out what would make sense for you.
Design boards are very personal and they serve as a guidance or source of direction for a product, collection or any kind of design for that matter. They also help us communicate our ideas more clearly and visually to other people, and give them an idea of what we’re thinking.
Design boards can be amazing tools if you use them right. I have always enjoyed the process of making them.
An inspiration is quite easy to understand. It is usually something tangible, that sparks a creative idea. For example, fashion designers are often inspired by elements of architecture or a certain art movement. They interpret it in their own way and that tends to show in the final product.
A theme is more intangible, as is a mood. I’d never recommend making both a mood board and a theme board. Just one of the two tends to suffice because they’re quite similar. A theme tends to be the name that you give your collection and the theme board represents everything the theme might look and feel like.
Sometimes you may work with a concept instead of a Mood, like if you’re trying to solve a specific problem, or are designing a more functional product like a Sleeve for a Gadget. In such a case, it makes sense to create a concept board which may visually communicate the kind of functionality needed, the different things the product would need to fit, etc.
In addition to these, some designers like to make a colour story board as well. I personally love mood boards the most and I like to convey my colours within my mood board, along with a bit of text that tells the story of the collection.
While in college, I also used to create client boards. Now that I have a brand of my own, the client stays consistent across all collections, but I did create one when I started out, which I still refer to. Client boards make sense for freelancers and graphic designers who tend to work with multiple brands, or brands with multiple product categories for different consumer segments. It really helps to dive deep and create and ideal target consumer persona because this guides your design process.
The mood board then becomes a comprehensive guide for my entire team. It not only guides the designs, but helps us have a reference point for when we’re going off track. It subsequently helps us photograph the products, design creatives and convey the story of the collection to our audience in a way that’s consistent.