Problem interpretation and resolution via visual stimuli: The use of 'mood boards' in design education

Steve Garner, Deana McDonagh-Philp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-64
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Art and Design Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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