Mood-boards are a fundamental transition between an initial thought to the first draft. A picture is worth a thousand words and a collage of a visually stunning collection of ideas, textures, and images can not only help one to refine their ideas but help communicate to the clients also. Mood-boards help in streamlining the design process and give the client an idea of what the final product might look like. It allows everyone to agree on direction before jumping right into the project and keeps designers on track as well as the client’s expectations under check.

Making a mood-board is a 3-step process of – thinking, collecting, and organizing. Since most people are visual learners a mood-board mustn’t be a confusing, messy collage but a cohesive and clear one. Mastering the skills of making a mood-board can transform one’s pitching experience to their clients. It is a bold statement and the first impression that one as a designer makes to their clients. Here is a series of tips that will help you create a perfect mood-board for clients –

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1. Digital v/s Tactile | Mood-Boards

Before jumping right onto making a mood-board, it is important to know your clients and your strengths, to decide upon the medium you want to build it onto. Physical mood-boards are a great option if you like working with the textures and the feel of the material. If you think your ideas are best conveyed by real materials and people experiencing them, then go ahead with it. But if your clients or people you are communicating with aren’t local and remote, then a digital mood-board can be advantageous and practical as you can directly email or share a link with them. Physical mood-boards may help you to think outside the box and take inspiration from the physical world, but it can also be difficult to create and become messy. On the other hand, digital mood-boards are convenient and fast but might limit the designer’s creativity to a screen.

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2. Curate your work

‘Less is more’. Making a mood-board requires you to collect things and start building it around the theme you have decided on. However, it is easy to miss a couple of steps between collecting and building, which is curating. To engage and resonate with your clients, one needs to sift through what has been collected, analyze, and, finally, reflect upon it. It is very easy to shove a load of stuff together but it takes an absolute talent to curate threads and synergies between each object present on the mood-board.

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3. Test it out

Before making the final show to your clients, it would be a great idea to do a mock-up. This would help you out to test the audience and help you do a SWOT Analysis of it. This way you can work upon where you lack, what goes and what doesn’t and where should you focus. You can test out your colleagues, employees, friends, and family.

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4. Do more than one

We always come up with different options for designs, so why treat this process any differently? Presenting more than one theme to your client might help you to know them better and have thorough discussions. By choosing which one may help you out to provide better insights about your client.

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5. Highlight your signature objects | Mood-Boards

A mood-board has to be indicative and not exact. To keep it balanced and not messy, it is a good idea to put only a few signature objects that help you to convey your concept efficiently. The signature products indicated in the mood-board should preferably be used in the actual design later. A key thing to remember is that a mood board is not a product specification and one should not put every single element onto it. Doing that would make it only confusing and shift the focus from what is important at that stage. So, highlight only the best ones.

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6. Include it in your pitch

Usually, mood-boards are considered separate pitches altogether, but it is a good idea to make them a part of the presentation. This would be advantageous in convincing the client with visual tricks and setting the perfect mood and tone for it. However, one needs to be careful to not reveal the mood-boards ahead of the pitch, to get an idea of the presentation or outrightly bolting it at the end. Putting it, in the beginning, would set up a series of questions that one may not be prepared for and come from a lack of getting the entire idea in the first place. So, to have effective communication, mood-board elements should be mixed with the presentation.

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7. Keep things interactive

Tactile mood-boards offer clients to play around with it and decide for them what they like and what they would want to discard. Having other options could help them mix and match things up according to their preference. This would lead to hands-on in-situ experience, provoking some valuable interactions and discussions. There are some great digital platforms as well for remote clients to get creative on it and have some interactive discussions too.

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8. Strike an Emotional Response

Sometimes personalizing mood-boards is a good idea to strike an emotional response with your client. For example, if you were inspired or the client wants you to work on the 90’s theme, bring objects that belong to that era. This would intrigue your clients and help you strike that all-important emotive reaction.

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9. Mood-board to Reality

There is no better way to show off your design ideas than by displaying them in action. This is particularly effective for clients who might not be able to grasp what and how the application of mood-board would result in the final project. A small example from previous projects indicating the mood-boards application into reality might help them conceive the overall picture.

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10. Refine and Re-submit | Mood-Boards

Mood-boarding is a multi-step process. This last tip is so much more important to conclude and on the common grounds with the client. Partially finalized mood-boards would have very little control over the design decisions to be made ahead and hence it’s a good idea to finish the process and not leave it halfway. Sometimes it may happen that the outcome could completely change from the initial conception, but it would be what the client would be satisfied with.

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Author

Aayushi Sanghvi, a young architect who extensively believes in the potential of research to make informed design decisions. She considers intellectual design dialogues as the stepping stones towards cognisant architecture. She is flexible, quick learner and an avid traveller; learning about new culture, people, spaces and expanding her horizon every-day.

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