Mood Boards & Swatch Boards: Helping Clients “See” Projects

In this post, Hixson Interior Designer Allee Amstutz reviews two tools Hixson designers use to help our clients envision their space: Mood and swatch boards.

As we continue to collaborate digitally during these pandemic times, the industry and Hixson have shifted perspectives in ways to convey design intent through online presentations. It is all about knowing who our clients are and the way they receive design concepts. Some see floor plans and test fits as a sufficient way of decision-making; others need imagery and touch. To help stakeholders see their spaces evolve in ways that are meaningful to them, we designers here at Hixson have been making efforts to create all-in-one presentations which address these different learning types.

Mood boards are a great way of showing clients what their space could look like. As designers, the way that we select imagery is careful and intentional: We first listen to the wants and needs of clients and note what problems must be solved. When choosing an image to place on a mood board, we want to be able to speak on the elements within the image that will help solve the problems in the current design. For example, if a client needs movable/tactile furniture to create areas of collaboration, we show them images in groupings that convey the styles of possible furniture layout options. Will they go with that exact desk system in the image shown? Most likely not.  Yet we show them that to get a reaction, whether positive or negative. Mood boards are all about getting a better direction so we can give the best possible outcomes to our clients. This is very similar to creating a Pinterest board for an idea you have and showing it to  friends to get their opinions. Mood boards are an effective and engaging way to see concepts that will lead to other conversations and evolve the design forward.

Swatch boards are very similar to mood boards, but are more geared towards the reality of the space. Some of the images in mood boards might show neon colors on the walls and vibrant patterns in the flooring, but these do not always reflect the client’s wants and needs. Placing digital swatches of selected finishes next to imagery really helps the client imagine the space for what it will be. Selecting swatches is just as intentional, if not more careful, due to the nature of materials in commercial spaces. We always want to be selecting the most efficient materials for our clients, keeping in mind all the elements within the space and the type of business itself. After the client has seen initial finish selections, we always like to send them samples of their own to have. This brings in another element that is crucial: touch. It is important to note that not all materials look the same from a digital image to the actual sample, so sending samples to our clients is very critical to the process.

Once design concepts, materials, and layouts are approved we move into a more detailed phase with renderings of the space. As a designer, I feel that renderings are very important in showing the client the actual space and the relationship between layouts, furnishings, and finishes. At Hixson, we take our time to provide these different avenues of visualizing our Design Development to make a lasting impression on our clients.

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