Difference between a concept & mood board

Difference between a concept & mood board

When I present a concept slash mood board, for my clients it includes actual pieces. Not pieces for illustrative or ‘conceptual’ purposes.  In Australian interior design language the words ‘concept’ and ‘mood board’ are used interchangeably.  But they are technically different things so I wanted to explain the difference between a concept and mood board from my perspective.

What is a moodboard?

A mood board is a visual representation, using actual pieces that reflect the design strategy.  After researching, an interior designer will select the specifications that best reflect the client’s interior style goals. 

As mentioned sometimes the words concept and mood board are used interchangeably and I think the reason for this is because a mood board is the interior designer’s interpretation of the client’s goals, so it’s not concrete, it’s conceptual.

My mood boards have actual products, pieces, finishes etc in them so that the client can more easily visualise the outcome but the primary function of the mood board is to obtain feedback from the client.

Client feedback is crucial to the overall look and feel and on the specific items included in the mood board.  Feedback helps confirm that the interior designer is on the right track conceptually and literally.

I think that interior design is mostly a visual communication tool. And like every industry there is a lot of jargon. But ultimately, I think an interior design mood board and/or concept are critical tools interior designers use to better service their clients. 

What is an interior design concept?

When you Google ‘what is an interior design concept’ a variety of definitions are shown. But in my interior design world, the ‘concept’ is the design strategy.  A design strategy defines the style goal and colour scheme preferred by the client.  This is an outcome of the brief stage of the interior design process.

A brief is a discussion about the client’s problems. Functional and aesthetic problems and their overall goals. It includes a review of the space and an exploration of the client’s interior style and colour preferences.

So the concept for the kitchen refurbishment project shown above, was for a Mid-Century Modern styled kitchen. With a colour scheme that includes sage, blue/grey, and white and ‘conceptually’ possibly salmon or coral.

The concept, or for me the design strategy, is a direction. A road map which helps the interior designer take the next step in the interior design process, which is research and specification. This next step is communicated via a mood board and a specification table.


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