Designs all come from somewhere, some deep crevice within the designers mind, which are abstractly constructed in normally a 2D and then a 3D form. Designers draw inspiration from almost anything. In clothes design I have seen designers be inspired from things like geology, to butterflies, to war torn towns and from colours, to smells, to philosophies.
The creation of mood boards is almost integrally important to the creation of almost any kind of design, although I would say it is particularly necessary in clothing and textile design. Designers draw shapes from mood boards and interpret them into clothing, sections of garments or a pattern. The colour schemes can also be drawn from this. I have used mood boards when designing a a range of clothing. I generally start with a central image that defines the message and feeling I want the range to show and then the rest of the images tend to have interesting shapes or patterns that I can use. The worst thing a fashion designer can do is draw all of their inspiration from existing garments. It creates boring recycled ideas which neither I nor the great Anna Wintour approve of.
In jewellery design I create things far more organically; my mood board is in my mind. I am inspired by a person or an emotion rather than a topic and from that I doodle and create shapes that eventually become realities. Here are some pieces I did exploring the different ideals of love, all connected through the symbol of a heart.
Here There is a selection of pieces such as the modern, simple love heart earring. In contrast there are the ornate stylised regency earrings with Botswana agate drops. On the necklace front the is the cute love bird pendant and the Victorian-esque jade drop pendant.
See how here the idea of love if the clear inspiration yet all of the different eras characteristics have made their way into it as well, displaying a shifting idea towards love but still a fundamental consistency as represented through the heart playing an integral role in each design.