Any writer, photographer or artist understands the importance of inspiration. Sometimes an idea just won’t gel until you get the right bit of creative spark from an unexpected source. The web has made it easier than ever for us to be influenced, enlightened and inspired by the designs of people from around the world. Where you previously had to visit galleries, exhibitions or shops, you can now unlock a worlds worth of design with a few clicks.
The sites in this list are all places that provide design inspiration in one way or another. Whether it’s by showcasing the things that others find inspiring, putting individuals works out there for opinion or simply by showing us what’s ‘cool’ today. We’ve found some great inspiration from these fantastic resources and we hope you do as well. We’ll break down this list for you by giving you a link to the site, telling you a bit about it and showing you something inspiring that they’ve recently posted.
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
Svpply is a collection of products that are liked and added by the community. You can follow people or stores, build your own feed of products and save a list of stuff that you want to buy or just browse around to look at interesting products. Consumer goods might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I find that there is a lot of artistry to be had here and sometimes a fantastic ring or jacket can fuel my fashion design flames which in turn gets me feeling more creative.
The Mill is a visual effects studio that services tons of global clients on film, TV and advertising projects. You’ve probably seen their work already whether you realize it or not. The Mill was recently honored with a BAFTA for their work on the Merlin series for the BBC. They update their blog regularly with projects, showreels and interesting stuff from creators that don’t work for them. It’s a great place to go for stunning work being done in motion graphics and visual effects.
UH is a humorous blog that pairs images from modern, mostly minimalist, homes and their occupants with pithy remarks filled with apathy and ennui. It’s a lot funnier than it sounds. In addition you get a great collection of cool homes and the well dressed, or not so well dressed, people living in them. The site takes a somewhat mocking tone with most of it’s subjects so don’t visit if you’re allergic to persistent, if gentle, mocking.
Run by designer Tina Roth Eisenberg, an expatriate Swiss designer living in NYC, Swiss Miss is a gem. The site is updated several times daily with interesting pieces of video, inspiring artwork and actual products that she finds interesting. There are interesting sites to discover like The Burning House, one of my new favorites, and quirky products like this World of Alice AC Adapter. Eisenberg is also the creator of the web-and-iphone to do app TeuxDeux.
More of a straight blog, Psfk takes a more intellectual bent in it’s coverage of design and technology. A lot of their articles cover marketing and cool technical projects. One of the most recent items that caught my eye was this tool that uses Nike+ to get a biofeedback visualization of the body’s changes during a workout.
Notcot is a link submission site that displays topics in a pleasant grid layout. It’s great to pop open and scroll through when you’re feeling a bit under-motivated. The topics are incredibly varied with links to cool new products, art collections, cars, scientific studies, architecture and publishing projects. This recent stop motion food video from the Edible Escape is a good example of the random fun that you can find on Notcot on any given day.
A place for designers to come to show off their work, Dribbble is a community that is kept pretty strictly to designers producing today so you’re getting to see fresh ideas that may arrive in an iPhone app, store or publication near you in the coming days. It’s like looking into the future of design. A ratings and voting system allows you to sort by the most popular or interesting designs although almost everything here is top notch because the submitters know that they’re going to be presenting to a community of their peers. These ‘gold doubloon’ business cards from Joshua Smith are a good example of the design awesomeness to be found on Dribbble.
The Cool Hunter focuses mostly on advertising and architecture with posts nicely filled out with high quality images of fantastic new buildings or campaigns. This set of images from Raiffeisen Bank’s flagship in Zurich designed by design co-operative NAU caught my eye recently. There are some other sections like fashion and travel to peruse as well, this link to a fantastic video profile of Scott Schumann of The Sartorialist is a good example of some of the goodness you’ll find here.
WMMnA interviews artists, visits galleries and design events and documents them on it’s site. The team of blog owner Régine Debatty and writers Shin’ichi Konomi and Sascha Pohflepp keep the content fresh and interesting. It’s updated regularly and features reviews of books and gallery shows as well as a nice archive of artist interviews. This writeup of ArtGame Weekend, a event held in paris where designers and coders are given 48 hours to develop a mobile device game, was an interesting look at a the game design process compressed into a very short span.
One of my favorite sites, Cool Hunting posts up interesting items in design, tech, style, travel and culture. I’m a fan of the tech category myself but there’s plenty of inspiration to be found in all of the categories. The Cool Hunting team produces original content as well as found objects so there’s a good mix of stuff that you may see on the other sites we mentioned today and items that are unique to CH. You can check out their roundup of the best Cool Hunting videos of 2010 here to see what they’re all about.
This is another personal blog that contains a nice mix of the slightly ridiculous, like these Budweiser nun chuks. It’s updated regularly and features a nice mix of industrial design, video content and images from its creator Pietr, a ‘Belgian living in Berlin’
A treasure trove of user generated links to super cool photography, architecture and design, Ffffound! is a great bookmark for anyone who wants a little inspiration. There is a fairly randomized nature to what you’ll see on the site each day but that adds to the thrill of visiting to see what’s new. This photo of Jane Mansfield in the Empress of China restaurant is the perfect example of the random joy you’ll get from Ffffound!.
Creattica is more of a straight design site like Dribbble. It’s broken up into designs in the HTML, Flash, Business Card, Logo and Posters categories, along with many others. This way you can check out great design work being done in a particular category. The site also allows you to find creative designers and view an extensive portfolio of their work along with contact and pricing information. This can be handy when shopping for a designer for one of your products.
Also a community of creatives, Forrst is broken up into four categories; Link, Snap, Code and Question. This allows you to check out articles from the web, in-progress designs, snippets of interesting code or get help with your own efforts. I’m a sucker for Octopi so I loved this ‘Octopus love‘ test print from designer Liz Kerner.
The Die Line focuses on graphic design and advertisement with a focus on package design. It features a mix of current designs and classic inspirations like this collection of vintage cereal boxes. The Die Line also hosts a large Package Design Directory featuring Design Firms, Printers, Prototypers, Photographers, Software, and Packaging Materials Suppliers. Listings are free for companies and it’s a good resource for those looking to hire a designer for their product packaging.
These are just a few of the sites that we find inspiring. The only danger here is that you get so engrossed looking at these that you may forget to do the work you started out needing inspiration for. If we left out any places that you think are essential destinations for design inspiration, please let us know in the comments.