Where does our inspiration come from?

In a nut shell, the world around us, just like everybody else, however I guess its the ability to see the less obvious, that makes a design unique.

And an example? Well, a rug....

As students of the Inchbald School of Design, we have the great opportunity to design a floor piece for the beautiful Veedon Fleece company (www.veedonfleece.com) via an annual competition. 

Judging is based on the design itself, but also on the process by which the design was conceived and it was in the recording of this process, that we thought you may find interesting to see just how we  ultimately portray inspiration. This has nothing to do with a garden I grant you, however the journey of finding a narrative for a design, the inspiration and the process of refining it, is one that encapsulates our entire design ethos, whether its a garden, landscape, or indeed a rug.

The conditions of the competition where that the design of the rug had to be aimed specifically at the brief of a client of our choosing and for this design, I rather ostentatiously chose myself. This was done in order to less reflect myself per se, but rather to commemorate a key moment, done so in a style that encapsulates its spirit and my reaction to it. 

In 2017, after a career in finance and at the age of 35, I decided enough was enough and it was time to step through a new door each morning and pursue a career which I was motivated and excited about. As such, I found myself, rather excitingly, enrolled at the Inchbald School of Design.

The brief I created therefore, was to create an image that captured the feeling of a new beginning. Of the excitement at change and the personal reaction to it, done so in a style that made the piece not only personally unique to myself, but also adaptable enough to ‘work’ in multiple spaces and environments and for other people.

As I had the luxury of using myself as the brief, I was able to appreciate the emotion, first hand of the design. Walking up to Inchbald School and passing through the impressive doorway on my first day is an exciting memory for myself and as such, I explored and used the concept of ‘stepping through a new door’ as the driving force of the design. 

The challenge therefore, was a representation of a doorway and whether this would be a literal image, or an abstract one. 

To begin, I made watercolour sketches of the doorway at Inchbald. 


Its strong geometric design and archetypical look, meant that the actual door itself immediately become my next focus. 

Initially, the idea of using an image of the entire door as the design, was explored. However, I soon found this too heavy handed and unsophisticated. Through numerous sketches, I found that using the separate panels of the door, gave all the meaning required, while still keeping an energy and freedom in the piece that I felt had to be reflected. 


While the finished design, which you'll see below, may appear sketch like, this was a very deliberate decision. I sketch in my free time and have developed a very quick, fluid style, which my fellow students within Inchbald recognise as mine. An example of this style is below and it was incorporating this style into the design that I knew would invest the personality and individuality required.  

Tate Modern Turbine Hall.

Tate Modern Turbine Hall.

Also, using this style was a deliberate nod to the wider design process and the work done at the school. Its mimics the fluid, quick sketches made by students when exploring a space and by doing so, connects the piece to the design school in general and my ongoing memories of it. The use of broad, un-neat brush strokes of marker pens inject an energy and anchors the piece as a reflection of the ongoing creative process, rather than a final statement.

The colour palette and arrangement was the next challenge and this was a relatively simple process of elimination. Working through multiple sketches in order to find the right balance led to several that portrayed the required energy and also a pleasing tonal quality.   


While the above images are only some of many, they highlight the relatively simple process.   

Having now settled on a composition and colour scheme, I made several copies of the design, trying to find a piece that was expressive, without looking staid and having found that piece, the final design was now complete. 


The 12 panels represent the panels found on the door of the Inchbald School. Within the centre of each, is a gold door handle, which while found only in the centre of the actual door, I found this a visually pleasing addition and another way to anchor the piece to its inspiration. The black mimics the door, while the yellow surrounding the panels, represents the gold Inchbald logo found above the doorway.

So, while certainly not a garden, we hope that this gives you a brief glimpse into how I found the inspiration, refined it and finally executed the design.

And this is no different to a garden. Finding inspiration in the client themselves and their passions, or from within the wider landscape that the garden sits, all come together to be condensed and refined in the above fashion.