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Concept Blog

This weekend I spent some time in North Wales. The landscape in that part of the country is so inspirational and it got me thinking about how we, as designers, can use the world around us to develop our own interior designs.

Here at the National Design Academy we get a lot of questions about the development of a concept, so here is a quick introduction which I hope will help you next time a client gives the hard job of developing an object, landscape or culture into a working design scheme.


The first stage is to get yourself familiar with the theme. Research, visit, look, touch, taste, submerge yourself in the idea, become interested and enthusiastic. This is sometimes easier said than done, particularly if your interests differ dramatically from those of the client.  You will however, in time, begin to realise that it is your job to sell an idea therefore the more passionate you are the more successful you will become.


Once you have researched an idea it is time to start thinking about how that idea can be translated into a design scheme. Above is just one way you can start to do this. I like to use diagrams, usually a lot more messily than this, but for clarity I have tidied it up a little. If you are unsure how to start try taking an image of the concept, in this instance I have taken two of Bala Lake, 8 miles from where I stayed. Once you have an image you can start to pick out colours, materials and textures that you may want to use to develop the scheme. You can also start to think about how you want the space to feel and its overall atmosphere. Once you have a rough idea of what you might like to include you can start putting together a concept board…


Once you have picked out key features of the design theme start to research these. In this instance I spent some time looking online at images that I believed represented the main colours, patterns, materials and textures. I then found interior schemes, furniture and accessories that I think fit well with the concept.  This is the first stage a client will see, so the ideas are not set in stone. You also would not be expected to have produced a complete design scheme. At this stage a client would look at the board, pick out pieces they like and also tell you what they do not like. This will help you to narrow your design and stop you wasting valuable time on researching a material, for instance, that they do not want, need or like.

Now you have an idea of what a client is looking for you would start to research particular materials, finishes, fabrics, furniture, lighting and accessories. This might be a long process and you would continually be in contact with the clients, informing them about the choices you are making. Once the different aspects of the design are decided upon you would create a number of presentation boards, sample boards, technical drawings and visual renders which would give the client a clear idea of what you are suggesting. Only when the client is happy would they sign the project off and you would start managing the application stage of the project.


The 3 boards I have included give you a rough idea of how a design would develop. Starting off with rough sketches, diagrams and notes, developing into concepts and ideas and finally progressing into a working scheme that reflects the client’s tastes and meets their needs. It can be a long process and take a lot of work but if you follow these basic steps you should stay on the right track!


Askew-Payler, A. (2014) Collection of images of North Wales, [photograph]. North Wales.

Bala Lake [Unknown] The Pale Wood [Online image]. Available from:

Bala Lake at night [Unknown] S4/C [Online image]. Available from:

Harlequin Lalika [2011] Harlequin [Online image]. Available from:

Tree branch fabric [Unknown] Sherrill [Online image]. Available from:

Farrow & Ball [2012] Annie Elliott [Online image]. Available from:

Boat cushion [2013] Achica Living [Online image]. Available from:

Woven Pendant [Unknown] West Elm [Online image]. Available from:

Sheep skin rug [2014] John Lewis [Online image]. Available from:     

Jacobean Tapestry [Unknown] The Millshop [Online image]. Available from:         

Selection of paint [Unknown] Westlake [Online image]. Available from:

Boheme [Unknown] Romo [Online image]. Available from:

Polished concrete [Unknown] Lazenby [Online image]. Available from:

Antler mirror [Unknown] House and Garden [Online image]. Available from:

Hello Sunshine [Unknown] Not on the High Street [Online image]. Available from:

Bird Light shade [Unknown] Not on the High Street [Online image]. Available from:

Watercolour rug [Unknown] John Lewis [Online image]. Available from:

Coffee Table [Unknown] John Lewis [Online image]. Available from: 

Select of wall coverings [Unknown] Sanderson [Online image]. Available from:

Vintage Pine [Unknown] Karndean [Online images]. Available from:

Wilfred sofa [Unknown] Out & Out [Online image]. Available from:

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