When Did Interior Design Become Amateurish?

I’m done with 3D Mood Boards.


I’ve been aware of the prevalence of ‘3D Mood Boards’ for a few years now.

Before I go any further, let’s get something straight, there’s nothing ‘3D’ about these mood boards.  They are itsy, bitsy images, made up of smaller images, that are trying very hard to appear in perspective, and at scale, and usually, they’re failing miserably at it.  I’m guessing the vertical hanging rugs and floating furniture, has something to do with that.

They are amateurish, crude presentations, that many Interior Design studios are using to try and communicate their product selections and overall design scheme, to clients.


I’m going to be honest, objectively speaking, this style of presentation, has all the traits of a high school project.

And in case there’s any confusion, that’s an insult, guys.

I will however, admit that it might be acceptable for an Interiors Blogger to use this communication method, to illustrate a design scheme.

Maybe.  At a push.

So, my question is:

When did Interior Designers decide that it was acceptable to produce this calibre of work, for paying clients, to communicate their design concepts?  And when was it decided that this communication tool was basically going to be the standard ‘approach’?

Ok, I’m guessing there wasn’t a formal announcement that these mood boards were going to be the standard form of communication, but a random Google search for ‘Interior Design Mood Board’ will throw up hundreds of these types of presentations.  And I’m not gonna lie.

I’m sick of looking at them.

Yes, I’m biased because I’m a 3D Visualiser.

And yes, I’m biased because I teach Interior Designers how to create their own watercolour illustrations, using SketchUp.

But, as someone who is Creative and Artistic, and who is very design led, with a very good eye for detail; the only message that’s being delivered to me (loud and clear, by the way), is that the creator of a ‘3D Mood Board’, like the one above, doesn’t really take pride in their work.

It gives the impression, that perhaps, the Designer isn’t really interested in providing a quality presentation.

Of providing value to their client.

Yea, that’s a brave thing to say, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of mood boards. When I studied Interior Design, I had to produce LOADS and I enjoyed the process.  But my mood boards weren’t trying to be ‘3D’.  They were simply a visually pleasing, group of images, that had high VISUAL IMPACT.  In my personal AND professional opinion, I feel the more traditional mood board below, is much more visually impactful than the ‘3D’ mood board above.  There is visual order and cohesion to my mood board, that is simply not present in the ‘3D’ one.

What do YOU think?

I feel that perhaps in the haze of the digital revolution, combined with the increase of e-commerce and specifically, e-design services, AND the resulting ‘I want it and I want it NOW’ consumer mindset, in our society today, that the presentation standards and communication methods of the Interiors industry, has indeed been compromised.

And this causes me great concern.

It’s the same with ‘3D Renders’.  They have been reduced to weird, cartoon style, images that have absolutely no right to call themselves ‘renders’.

Call that a render?  This.  THIS is a render!

Photo-real 3D Visual by Anita Brown 3D Visualisation

And a good quality render doesn’t have to be photo-real either.  It CAN be illustrative, (or conceptual) too.  Like this one I created.

This is a 3D interior, created in SketchUp, and then exported to Photoshop, where it was enhanced with shadows and highlights.  It was also transformed into a watercolour illustration.  It hasn’t been created using complex rendering software and, with a little bit of practice, can be created in a few hours (even less).

There’s a big difference between this watercolour illustration, and the cartoon render above.



I know what you’re going to say, ‘but I don’t have the time’.

We’re all in the same boat!  None of us EVER have enough time!

But when you’re providing a service that focuses primarily on how things LOOK, then you have a responsibility to present your ideas in an acceptable format and at an acceptable standard.

But here’s the thing: I’m not asking you to hand draw plans, or elevations.  I’m not even asking you to learn complex rendering software.  I’m asking you to use a user-friendly and intuitive CAD software application (SketchUp), that will COMPLETELY transform your workflow and ability to communicate your designs to clients.  Thereby, ensuring that, as a business, you’re providing value for money, AND kicking your competition to the kerb!  Doesn’t really sound like a chore, when you put it like this, huh?


My mission, at the SketchUp Hub, has always been to teach Interior Designers and Interior Design students how to create their own floor plans and elevations QUICKLY, ACCURATELY and PROFESSIONALLY.

I’m now going to add, ‘and to help raise the standard of client presentations within the Interior Design industry, by wiping out the use of dodgy ‘3D’ Mood Boards and cartoon renders’, by encouraging Designers to use SketchUp’.

I’ve already started this process by providing a FREE PDF download of my top tips, when creating digital Mood Boards (the traditional ones), you can download this PDF by registering with the SketchUp Hub, or signing up to my newsletter, and will be putting a video tutorial together SOON, of how to create a digital Mood Board using GIMP (free image editing software, a bit like Photoshop).  I’m also going to create a new course soon, of how to create a 3D interior and present it as a watercolour illustration, as I have received many requests for this.

Soon you’ll be able to create an amazing, illustrated 3D visual, just like this!

Join me, in my mission, to rid the world of amateurish mood boards and cartoon renders, and replace them with inspiring, whimsical and professional looking illustrations!

Because your designs and YOUR CLIENTS deserve it.

PSST!  It’s not just me creating these SketchUp illustrations, SketchUp Hub students are creating them too!

Join the discussion, leave a comment below!


2 responses on "When Did Interior Design Become Amateurish?"

  1. Hi Anita,

    What programs did you use to create that 3D photo-real image?


    • Hi Roxana,

      The vintage Edison bulb 3D visual was created using SketchUp and Maxwell Render. If you register with the SketchUp Hub, you’ll receive updates on the launch of future courses, including our new 3D course where we’ll show you how to create photo-real interiors 🙂 You can register here.

Leave a Message

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2018 SketchUp Hub