Inspiration Images: Why are they important
Updated: May 13
March 29, 2021
For every project I work on or even consider working on, my first go to task is research. This is an industry trick which most Interior Designer and Architects do, they find inspiration images which give the visual vocabulary to express the concept of the project. And on every project I start with the Client, this is always my first recommendation, to collect inspiration images.
Why are Inspiration images Important? I understand that for a person who is not a designer, the process may seem daunting , redundant and confusing at first. Why would I need an Inspiration image? Isn't that why I am hiring an Interior Designer? Also isn't that like cheating? Is the Interior Designer going to take the picture and literally copy it?
Well yes and no. The inspiration image is essentially the starting point, the defining image of Client's style and a roadmap for the project, however we will still have to make it work for Client's space and within their budget.
Looking for images is a time consuming task, but it is essential, because not only it helps you with developing the concept, it also helps you understand your style. Your inspiration images will be your roadmap throughout the project and you will refer to them many times when you are faced with numerous decisions like: what is the wood floor color, what color should I paint the walls, should I get a copper or stainless steel faucet, would this wallpaper fit well with all my furniture?
You will find the answer to these questions in your inspiration images. They not only will tell you visually what you like, but will tell you what is the right balance of various materials, textures, colors and what mood you are going to achieve. And you will find all this out without spending money on expensive room makeovers, and without purchasing any furniture or furnishings.
What are inspiration images? Any image can become your inspiration image, but let's start with something simple. On a recent kitchen renovation project, I asked my client to look for inspiration images. He presented me with a few, but then he told me he loved one particular photo the most. We had a discussion about what he liked about it. He explained that he loved the color and material combinations and the brightness of the space. He loved having a stone island and the waterfall on both sides, he loved the warmth of the copper details, he loved the veining of the stone on the countertop. Those were really great observations and were enough to get us started on planning the materials palette.
Then there are times, when I ask a client for inspiration images, and they tell me that that there is no single image out there that could describe what they are looking for. We live in a digital era, where sharing images is synonymous with breathing, we also have access to countless design blogs and the amount of art work, along with beautiful renovation projects is staggering. However, there is something to be said about this feeling that there is no image out there which could describe what you want. This is when we have to dig deeper into this inspiration image business and when things get more interesting.
When I hear from my clients that there is no images out there to describe what they are looking for, the job of finding the right combination of images becomes essential to carry out the project. , My professional experience is telling me that the Client is looking for something more unusual and something which may be harder to describe. Maybe they are after creating a certain mood in their space, or a juxtaposition of various design styles in a unique way or they are looking to create an expression of their personality.
My job is to define this not only for myself but most importantly for the Client, because this images or a series of images will help us determine later what materials we want to choose, what fixtures we select, what should be the fabric color and texture. Very often we store a lot of the information we see without realizing that our brain is cataloging and remembering the details and it subconsciously makes makes decisions why we are drawn to certain items later on.
How do you use inspiration images?
I would start looking for inspiration images on Pinterest, because you can be very specific and Pinterest will also send you suggestions of images you may like and which fit your description. You can also create various boards for different projects or rooms in your home. If you are not finding what you are looking for, I would look thru Interior Design and Architectural magazines websites: Wallpaper, Dezeen, Architectural Digest, Elle Decoration. Bridge for Design, Arpay, Azure, Casa Claudia, Design Bureau, Interior Design, Dwell, Decor, Luxe Interiors and Design, Vogue Living and the list goes on. Then there are also numerous design blogs which are an amazing source of visuals: Apartment 34, Hunted Interior, Studio McGee, Pages, Cococozy, Design Boom, Inhabitat, Design Milk, ArchDaily, Decor8Blog, Home and Design.
Once you narrowed it down and saved approximately 10 images or less, you will start the visual process of determining what you like about each image. Whether you like the glossy finish on the cabinet or if you like the combination of the yellow wallpaper with a certain colour rug, make a note of all your observations. They are very important. I would then select each part from an image and paste it all onto a white board and take in what you just discovered. This combination of images is a reflection of what you truly desire your project to become. During the process you may find that you have a preference for more bold moves than you expected. Now the hard part may be to to find the courage to express yourself.
I would also like to explain that if you find a material or a pattern which you like as a wallpaper, there is nothing preventing you from adding it to your space in a different form, it could become a cushion cover or a rug. It's your choice to make. The trick is to re- create the balance of colors, materials, patterns, which you so carefully selected thru your inspiration images.
,With time and with some practice, finding and selecting inspiration images will start to feel meditative, so don't give up too soon. I hope that you will enjoy this and I hope that you will discover your true "self" with the help of few well selected visuals.
What is the difference between Inspiration Images and Mood Boards?
There can be some confusion when Interior Designers tell their client they will be making a presentation in the form of mood boards. These mood boards are different from Inspiration images, because they typically show you the materials, furniture, furnishings, colors which have been selected for the project. Sometimes the Mood Board will also include the original Inspiration Image or Images to show the Client that your selections are in sync with the design intent. Mood Boards are also typically presented to the Client after the design concept, while the Inspiration Images are selected and presented at the start of the project.
Agnieszka at ACA DESIGN STUDIO