Tag Archives: generating ideas


“mood board for fall/winter 2013”

Story boards can be a great way to convey your design style, helping you hone your ideas and get into “ the mood” early on. From my viewpoint, a fashion storyboard is when a designer already has a feel for what he/she are showing and they just organize the board in the manner they want to present it.


Photo: fashion-fringe-haizhen

However, if you’re not at that stage and inspiration is fleeting then I would take a couple of steps back to the thinking process and start a mood board. That is when you take various things like fabric swatches, colour samples, different textures, prints and everything else that inspires you to think about what you want to create. Mood boards usually have illustrations and photographs as well. The only thing is it all has to be cohesive and represent the type of feel you are going for.

When trying to convey a design idea, moods, feelings and touchy-feely stuff are hard to communicate. So fashion designers will often use mood boards: a collage of textures, images and text related to a design theme as a reference point.


Telepathy would save a lot of time but sadly for most of us it’s not an option. What I’m thinking and feeling about a creative idea, my intended vision for a piece of work, is limited to how good my verbal communication skills are at expressing this to my design team or sales reps. Mood boards help others to ‘get inside our heads’ in order to convey a thematic setting for a design or to explain function in piece of work.


“bright red interpreted by Pierre Carr”

That said, mood boards can be a pain to create, with many hours spent trawling image galleries, websites, books and magazines looking for that perfect image to sum up your intended feel for the work at hand.

So here are a collection of tips to help make your pin board-making more effective and double your chances of getting what you want to convey!


 Look beyond the fashion world

When putting together mood boards, it’s easy (and therefore tempting) to just use fashion sources. But just because you’re working on a fashion product, don’t just look for fashion inspiration. For example, looked at other forms of lifestyle and worldly interests, online or in printed format, in order to express how powerful and effective an image plus a caption can be for telling your story. Current affairs and travel make the world a smaller place. Entertainment and fashion often overlap in pop culture. Look at television, movies, music, art exhibits, advertisements, international news.

Real world inspiration such as this can be a very powerful ‘convincer’ when putting together a board for communicating your creative vision.

Take photos when you’re out and about. Real world inspirations are all around us. So use the camera or your smart-phone to take pictures of everything you see that inspires you – whether it’s the gal (or guy) on the street, a great use of typography on a sign, or local landmarks. They don’t have to be great photos in the traditional sense – it’s all about capturing thoughts, impressions, themes and feelings.

steampunk mood

“steampunk mood”



 The basic concept: a collage or pinning of textures, images and text related to a design theme as a reference point.


What you leave out is as important as what you choose.

Have you ever had the misfortune of going to a gallery exhibition and it just not doing anything for you? You weren’t ‘touched’ by the exhibition or ‘moved’ by what was on show – and other similar emotive profusions. It’s very easy to shove a load of stuff together and call it a collection; it’s an absolute talent to curate threads and synergies between works and call it a collection.


Photo: John working @ vitialcoaching

 When putting together mood boards, think of yourself as a curator rather than a collector, and try to have meaning and threads from one image to the next. It makes for easier interpretation.

Choose the right format

Decide at the outset whether your mood board is going to be solely for you alone or presented to co-workers or friends. The answer will decide whether you produce a private or public mood board. The distinction is not trivial: the two formats demand very different approaches.

A private mood board will generally be looser in style and require the extra kick and emotive spark that comes from it being presented as inspiration or direction. A public mood board should be tighter and will generally need to work harder to convey a theme or style.

Build things up around a large image

Whether your pinboard is electronic or physical, the layout of your mood board needs to give prominence to key theme images, then surround these with smaller supporting images that enhance the theme.


“green mood board”

Again, it’s a subliminal trick. When someone looks at a large image on your board in their heads they’ll have questions about it – which they’ll quickly scan the rest of the board to find answers for. If you place smaller supporting images around the larger image they should do this job for you by clarifying the messaging given in the larger one.

Get tactile

When making an actual physical pin board, don’t be afraid to get, well, physical. Traditionally mood boards are made from foam-core board and cutting this stuff up with a scalpel and spray mounting cut-out images onto it can be a pain, especially if you’re not dexterous with a blade. But it’s extremely effective as a presentation tool. The tactile nature of cut-out images glued onto boards enhances the emotiveness of what’s being explained. Add swatches of fabrics and trims, even hardware to show actual colour, texture, and finishes.


“Coach ® mood board”

It may seem like a ridiculously old fashioned thing to do, but perception-wise it’s a real ace up your sleeve as a designer. Just be careful with your fingers on that blade.


Show your mood board early

Generally mood boards are considered to be separate to pitch or presentation work as a story board; they stand alone to show mood and tone and are presented in the early process of designing. This is standard practice, but consider instead making them part of your look-book presentation in your final design stages, as well. Remember, you’re trying to use subliminal visual tricks to make others ‘get it’.

Save the surprise

It’s important to make sure that a well-meaning project manager doesn’t email a mood board ahead of the presentation ‘so they know what we’re presenting’. For a mood board it’s far better to let it all sink in to the viewer’s mind as you showcase it, rather than come armed with lots of questions before you even start.

Get involved in the pitch

If your mood board is being presented to the client or your sales reps, try to be involved yourself. It makes no sense to have something which originated in your head being communicated by someone else, because that way meaning can become muddled in a Chinese whispers-type mess. You are the designer, own it.

Keep things loose

Locking an idea or a style down in a mood board can be detrimental, as you will feel shoehorned into going with a particular style. Keep everything a little loose and don’t make everything look too finalized. Creative ideas come from everywhere, at any time.

Watch the audience’s faces

When you’re presenting a mood board, watch the faces of those you’re showing it to. Ignore any verbal ‘oohs and ahhs’ but instead watch their facial and emotive reactions as they look around the board. This will give you a much more honest take on whether the board is doing its job and if they’re reacting well or badly to what you’re showing them. You have to put these people ‘in your mood’ so ignore their mutterings and watch their emotive reactions.

General pointers

Hone your mood board skills. Practice makes prefect. Look at other examples of mood boards and story boards.


Brand gurus Pinterest uses a form of pin board to showcase personal “likes” to other members of their site. Formed as a “scrapbook” grid, it gives their audience an insight into what that the pinner is like; their interests, loves, passions, cares and worries. If you ever want to test out your mood boarding skills – the ultimate challenge at making mood boards – try this out and showcase it to your colleagues.

Text it up

Don’t ignore the power of a few isolated words on a board. They’re fantastic show-stoppers and give your viewer pause for thought as they have to mentally read what’s in front of them. Big, bold words juxtaposed together work very well at creating drama, tone and meaning for any project.



Make the theme obvious

Obscure references can be fun but try to have a number of relocatable items or ‘touch points’ featured in your mood board. You want to let others in, so being deliberately obtuse will earn you no points at all. It’s much harder to be clear and use imagery to sell your vision than hiding behind a pile of incomprehensible references just to fill the board out with. But it’s worth the effort to do so.

Aim to spark an emotional response

Think a little bit left of centre if you’re presenting a mood board. What would give your audience a genuine emotive response to? Real world objects are good for this. If you were inspired by the beach, bring in a shell. If your eureka moment happened on the bus, bring in the ticket. This type of thing intrigues people’s brains and gains that all-important emotive reaction.


“art deco mood”

Don’t make presumptions

Presumption making can be the difference between a successful mood board and one that’s dismissed as being too cerebral. There’s a danger of expecting too much of the audience – that they’ll ‘know what you mean’. Chances are they won’t. So if it takes a few more references, images or textures to get what’s inside your head into a client’s then add them in.

Test your mood board

Finally, don’t forget to test out your boards before you present it. Remember, it’s not a game of Pictionary®, so if your testing audience have to ask too many times what an image means or why it’s there, then it probably shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Have fun!

The whole process of creating mood boards should be fun – a refreshing break from the often tedious tasks of the fashion designer. If you’re not having fun then it’s a sure sign you’re going about things the wrong way.



Filed under Bag'n-telle, Design Insight, Design Inspiration


bag interior
“What Should I Consider When Designing a Handbag Interior?”

Clutches, satchels, hobos, buckets, shoulder-drops, slings: all are names for different types of handbag styles. Yet, each has one thing in common… an interior that is perfect to hold all your necessities, while catering to your fashion consciousness. Every woman is unique in her tastes and needs, and the handbag market reflects this. You, as the designer, have total control.

One of the first things to consider when designing a handbag interior is need. What does the user need the handbag to do? Keep in mind: bag size/proportion, occasion, time of year, climate. Yet functionality need not limit your creativity. Aesthetics are important too. Interiors should look beautiful. An easy and simple way to achieve this is through fabrication and colour. Take this opportunity to get away from conventional materials and colour schemes. Here is your chance to use high-quality luxurious fabrics, rich patterns, textures, and colours… all of which will reflect your own personal tastes. Or perhaps the fabrication must multi-task? Not only should your choice be based upon its appearance but possibly its properties too. Consider using thermal linings, waterproof linings, stain/mildew-resistant linings, plush linings, padded/quilted linings as part of your design specifications.

Organization is another important consideration when designing a purse interior. There should be compartments for storage and security. Think how the handbag is used, picked up, opened, looked through. An enclosed space or compartment for the things carried the most often is what you want to include in your design. Is the pocket, pouch, slot accessible? Is it positioned comfortably to reach in and retrieve objects? Compartments and their placement can be customized to your own preferences. Does it need to be secured? Inset zippers, dome-snapped flaps, elasticized openings, gripper straps often add security features to your interior styling.

If your aim is to design a handbag unlike the high-end designer handbags found in the marketplace, do use better quality hardware such as high-quality zippers for pocket openings and employ better sewing techniques. Often times while exteriors are fussed over, their interiors are slapped together poorly and quickly. They will not endure for long, the inner lining materials tear easily and they end up having “swallow holes”.  Swallow holes are those empty spaces in the lining of a handbag where small items like coins drop into the space between the lining and the exterior of the bag. There should be even, smooth machine-stitching with no skipped or broken stitches. One of the suggestions I often make is to reinforce the lining fabric with a Knit-fuse interfacing or back the lining material with a flannel interlining to stabilize and strengthen the interior lining. In handbag designing, an impeccably executed bag interior will only complement a well-constructed handbag exterior.

The final consideration is to put your personal “stamp” on your handbag design. Custom features such as monogramming, placeholders for key-rings or pens, coordinating wallet or eyeglass holder, or telescoping umbrella are just some ideas you may want to include in your interior styling to complete your total fashion image and add uniqueness to your handbag design.

Handbag interiors are as individual as the women carrying them and should be designed for beauty as well as necessity. Their style, materials, features and workmanship will all be factors in the overall design of the perfect handbag. Most women, however, just find them indispensable.


Filed under Bag'n-telle, Design Insight


Photo Credit: Moleskins

Inspiration is in every direction. With no limits to creativity, let the shapes, colours, and textures around you contribute to the bag designs in your mind. Fashion need not be inspired only by fashion. Fashion designers often get their ideas from current events, entertainment, art, the environment, or cultures around the world. Brainstorming, imagery, awareness, and observation can be very powerful in any of your artistic endeavours. This way of seeing is ideal for enhancing your creativity. Next, you need a method to capture and remember your creative visions.

Keep a Fashion Idea Sketchbook

Sketch, sketch, sketch – There’s no risk involved in a sketch. If it doesn’t work out, just turn the page of your sketchbook and start again. Not much of an artist? Use a grid template. A grid template is a linear layout of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines. Use them to sketch your bag design’s stylelines and overall appearance while maintaining accurate proportions and dimensions. Graph paper makes a good template so that you always have copies of this grid to draw your designs. Gather newspaper and magazine clippings, photos, drawings or make photocopies of favourite bag styles as well as ideas and details for colour palettes, fabrications, etc. and paste them in your sketchbook. Your ideabook will be constantly evolving just as fashion does. Update it often, removing those ideas that aren’t as inspiring and adding new-found creative ones. When “shopping the shops” make a note of any details or design ideas you discover in the marketplace. Look closely at the construction, shapes and proportion of the details. Draw/sketch, and write down as many notes as you can remember for later use. Sketch the detail over and over again, varying the shape and design to improve on it. Make it your own and let it generate many more great ideas.

Redesign – redraw – renew.

I’ll let you in on a trade secret. Sometimes designers are fortunate enough to develop a “runner” in their collections. A runner is marketing jargon for a style that is an instant seller and is reordered over and over again by the retailer. Whenever a runner is developed, designers do not discard it at the end of the fashion season; we alter it slightly… perhaps changing the hardware or possibly re-fabricating the popular style in a new material for the next season. You can do the same. If you have developed a bag design that you really enjoy, do not start over from square one; instead sketch it out and re-work it with new hardware, new colour scheme, or new materials. Let one single good design idea morph tenfold.

Visual Cues

It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Use this philosophy in your sketching. Often there is no “real” pattern-drafting needed to produce a basic bag silhouette. Draw out your design based upon its specifications. Patternless designs (a simple block grid) can be plotted directly onto your material as long as the fabric is square and on-grain. Once the design specs are communicated visually, you are ready to cut out the shape, sans pattern.

Simplification of Ideas

If you’re happy with your first attempt, well done. I would caution you however, do not expect perfection for your first trial or you might end up disappointed with the end results. I often find novices put too many of their ideas into one sketch. My advice is take your original design and simplify it by redrawing the concept eliminating any parts of the design that cannot stand on its own. Keep simplifying each progressive sketch until you can no longer simplify it without changing the prime concept. Often it is that sketch of the bag style that should be put into production. Designing is a evolutionary process, so practice make perfect. If you continue to keep on sketching and improve it for every new attempt, soon enough you will have a collection of bag styles in your repertoire worthy of the production stage.

Drawing your design ideas takes concentration. A defined work-space and a preplanned time frame are often helpful. Try to plan sketching time every day, or whatever time is available to your lifestyle to sketch. Planning a time frame in a space where you can concentrate will help slow down your ideas and draw them out so you can actually be productive with them.  If you’re in a hurry or if the ideas come too fast, it’s difficult to convert them into a good design.


Filed under Bag'n-telle, Design Insight


Photo Credit: SewMuchStyle

Get creatively green by recycling clothes.

Whether you call it recycling, refashioning, repurposing, reclaiming or something else, it’s the act of showing off your individuality as well as taking a stand toward consumer culture, the clothing industry and the environment that makes it valuable.

Enjoy the design process and have fun hunting for a good mix of fabrics, that you have no qualms with ripping apart. You may get something out of it you’ll love.

Start off small. Find inexpensive clothing at thrift shops, garage sales or even set up a clothes swap with your friends. Utilize the look of vintage clothing and the old shapes and tiny details, try to figure out a way to incorporate them into something new for your design-it-yourself bags.

Etsy shop SewMuchStyle sells messenger bags/laptop sleeves made from used suit coats, so no two bags are alike. The size of the bag and the fabric colours can be customized to your taste. The designer says to look at the design, texture, and colours for an idea of what they should become… “sometimes it can made into what they should be right away and some need to be set aside and looked at until there purpose becomes evident.”

It takes your own time and creativity, and inspiration comes from many places.

SewMuchStyle (http://www.etsy.com/shop/SewMuchStyle)

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Credit: Leffot

As simple as a DIY wallet design can get – a cut piece of leather, you simply ~ FOLD!

The Leffot® Fold! Can’t get any better than this, check it out.


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Courtesy: Moo

A well-inspired and ingenious usage of colours can generate a visually balanced image, with an bold impact, which is pleasing to the eye.

Colour blocking is one such creative device. It refers to a colour scheme in which two or more fabrics of complementing colours are sewn together in a decorative way. The overall look is very graphic and modular in design. The popularity of colour blocking dates back to the 1960s, when it found its origin in the pop culture of modern art and hip fashion. The fashion world ushered an innovative, bold and creative style of clothing that originally belonged to London. The British youth set the trend, which was later followed by the rest of the world. The muted pastel palette of the 50s fashion transformed into bright, bold colours that were often applied in geometric patterns and is still popular today with the retro trend of colour block. It is an ideal styling technique to  use for creating your own handbag designs.

Colours in Our Environment:

Nature’s own colour palette is inspirational…an assortment of hues and dynamic combinations; various sultry blues and aubergines of a seascape, lush greens and yellows of flourishing flora, and hot arresting reds and browns of earth and minerals. A skilled designer understands the subtle interactions of these hues and bonds them, with layers of other colours in metals and plastics, to give an appealing look to a fashion accessory. A perfect assortment of different colours and various shades play an important role in defining the look of your finished product. Not only is it pleasant to view but allows for a bold exciting statement to be made regarding your personal image. Initially, blocks of square or rectangular pieces were sewn together to create this colour style. The ‘Mondrian Look‘ during the 60s consisted of flat planes revealing the artistic sensibility of the wearer. Later during the evolution of modern fashion, colour blocking has grown into other geometric shapes and angular patterns in many vibrant colours and pattern schemes, popular with current designers.

Sewing the Colour Scheme:

Colour blocking involves cutting the fabric along the line where the colour change is required, and then adding a seam allowance to both the sides. When the pieces of fabric are sewn together, the final fabric is of the same size and shape as of the original piece, but with two or more complimenting hues. This type of pattern patchwork is best suited for simple and bold designs as elaborated designs would require more seams and makes the process a complex one, and if the stitching is less than accurate, it would also affect the finishing of the product. Order of construction is more important in these styles, as sewing around sharp angles will be tedious. Colour blocking is different from appliqué, wherein one shape is stitched onto another piece of fabric. Appliqué requires a lot of hand-basting, but is comparatively easier than colour blocking. Similarly, it also varies from piping where a contrast colour fabric is sewn into the seam in such a way that it protrudes visibly along the seamline acting as an accent trim detail.

The idea is to sew blocks of colour in varied dimensions and sizes; you can accomplish this by making squares and rectangles; or applying it to different parts of the bag construction . It’s best to plan out the sizes and shapes in a sketch before you actually begin sewing the fabrics or handbag parts. You will want to create a geometric balance, both in the positioning of the squares and rectangles and the colour scheme that you’ll choose. Once you have everything planned out on a sheet of paper, then you’re ready to start stitching.

Colour block handbag designs add a spirit of freshness to any ensemble, and grabs attention. Today’s lifestyle calls for active designs, and people wish to look more fashionable and presentable. These styles have now become a fashion trend. Today, designers offer colour-blocked accessories as well as apparel, for an overall effect, added with flattering styles. Shades of bright orange, true red, key lime, alpine green, sky blue and hues of pink are in vogue. New colour combinations are being introduced in the new collections to suit the changing preferences of the consumers. Latest fad is ‘Tonal Colour Blocking‘, which consists of a new dimension with a light and a dark shade from the same colour palette.

The Rules of Colour Blocking

Colour block can add a graphic element to the appearance to any design. It gives a bold effect to simple DIY designs and transform them into architectural pieces. Here are the rules to the art of colour-blocking:

  • Three is the magic number
  • Keep colours in the same family
  • Be loud and proud
  • Keep it simple

Discover analogous, triadic, and split-complementary colour combinations and have fun with your creations.


Filed under Design Insight


Bottega Veneta is out to disprove all those cynics who claim designers and companies aren’t doing enough to train the next generation of craftspeople.

The Gucci Group-owned accessories and fashion house is joining local trade school Scuola d’Arte e Mestieri di Vicenza to set up an apprenticeship educational program for aspiring luxury handbag makers — the Bottega Veneta Artisan School.

Their website  has a great page called “Hand of the Artisan“. Very interesting to see all of the hard work that goes into their products and truly inspiring for generating ideas.


Filed under Design Inspiration