International Journal of Art & Design Education

Problem Interpretation and Resolution via Visual Stimuli: The Use of ‘Mood Boards’ in Design Education

Volume 20.1   2001



This paper defines and discusses ‘mood boards’ – those assemblages of images and, less frequently, objects, which are used to assist analysis, creativity and idea development in design activity. There is need for discussion since little published information currently exists to guide students and tutors. The paper proposes that mood boards can assist problem finding as well as problem solving. Primarily, mood boards provide a mechanism for students and practising designers to respond to perceptions about the brief, the problem as it emerges and the ideas as they develop. The construction of mood boards potentially stimulates the perception and interpretation of more ephemeral phenomena such as colour, texture, form, image and status. They are, like Debono’s lateral thinking techniques, partly responses to an inner dialogue and partly provocation to become engaged in such a dialogue. Examples are drawn from recent work in the field of industrial design at Loughborough University.