The Perils of Mood Boards
Help or hindrance? How useful a tool is the mood board?
Let's start with the basics... what is a mood board? The term is bandied about, meaning different things to different people, with hundreds of types out there - good, bad, plain indifferent - just like our own moods. But what value do they add to the interior design process?
Before getting hung up on what format is best and how it looks, it's worth asking another question - what is it for? A mood board is just one of the visuals available to inform the design process. At the start of a project a board can be an invaluable tool, mostly due to the old truism... a picture paints a thousand words. When asked to look plainly at something, most of us are swift to spot the things we don't like! These reactions are very revealing.
So a good board up front is a catalyst, prompting debate and exposing personal preferences of style and taste. It clarifies the brief and prevents costly wrong turns. Now is the time to find out if Penelope Pitstop pink is the stuff of personal dreams or nightmares - before you're pitched a flamingo coloured powder room.
The best mood boards spark excitement and whet the appetite. How you feel when you look at one is telling. We're fans of the old school format - a physical board brimming with paint daubs, tear sheets and material snippets. It's still a winning formula. Having something in your hands, touchable and immediate, is especially useful for those struggling to engage... or the hard of seeing!
But, predictably, technology has radically transformed this field. Pinterest means everyone can collate virtual scrapbooks and cherry pick from limitless styles, while rapid software advances can render images so polished it's sometimes hard to spot the difference between reality and illusion. It's easy to get swamped and sidetracked.
Now the hi tech offspring of the original mood board... the 2D visual, useful to show design direction and the 3D render, leaving little to the imagination... are useful additions to the project armoury. The best of these digital visuals are both persuasive and illuminating - reducing uncertainty and the margins for error. Powerful in the right hands.
But, showing someone exactly what they're going to get removes some of the anticipation - and pacing yourself is important in longer projects. You could say it's instant gratification that leaves you in danger of an anticlimax at the end!
And a word of warning... be a bit wary of the hyper realistic photo treatments... as they can fix expectations quite rigidly, misrepresent light and finishes - and are very costly to produce. Which might adversely affect your mood.