Contours in Nature – design ideas

Blue & green agate slice painting by Joanne Griffin at Arnold & Bird

Following on from the contours in nature mood board, we’re now exploring the design potential in this topographic trend!

First up is a painting of an agate slice I did that I’m currently reworking into a product range. Although not strictly a landscape contour, I love the topography lines that are reminiscent of these curves. Agates are beautiful examples of luxe nature, where natural objects are so decadent without any man made influence. It’s beautiful to surround yourself with little pieces of opulence like this.

Topographic drawing by Joanne Griffin at Arnold & Bird
Topographic drawing by Joanne Griffin at Arnold & Bird

These two pencil sketches of contour lines are filled in with geometric shapes, representing cities or circles. I like the patchwork style and contrast between the natural formations and regulated lines. I’m not sure what direction I want to take this idea in yet, it’s one for the backburner for now. If you have any ideas then I’d love to hear them!

city grid geometric surface pattern shower curtain by Arnold & Bird on Society6

This city grid is from a drawing I did at college while in Art Foundation, based on a project about Las Vegas. I loved the grid structured layout of this city and it just seems like a town like no other. Las Vegas has always been a place I’d love to visit, however tacky and crazy it may be! I digitally created the original drawing into this repeat surface pattern design and uploaded it to Society6 where it features on a range of products, including this shower curtain.

Abyss Table by Christopher Duffy

I had to highlight these two design pieces as an amazing and innovative take on this theme. The Abyss Table by Christopher Duffy takes the everyday coffee table and turns it into a work of art. The depth that is created through layering wood and glass is remarkable and it really feels like you are looking (or could fall) so deep into the gorgeous blue ocean beneath you. It is a stunning piece that really creates a focal point in a room.

Wood chart wooden topographic lake

The Wood Chart uses laser cutters to carve the contours of each of their water inspired pieces. Once layered together and hand stained, these vast landscapes turn into glorious detailed and beautiful pieces of art that would look seriously impressive in any home. Plus you can also pick a piece that is personal to you due to their vast range!


Thanks for checking out my contoured inspired designs and inspirations. If you have any work inspired by this trend then please share it as I’d love to see your take.

Joanne Griffin signature


Images sources: My own designs unless otherwise stated



Natures Contours – Inspirational Design Mood Board

Natural contour design moodboard by Arnold & Bird

Contours in nature have fascinated me since London Design Festival about five years ago, so this mood board is dedicated to the innovative designs that celebrate this natural topographic trend.

Natural contours create form through curves and lines in mountains and lakes, as well as undulations in the ground. Although not from nature, I also love the structure of how cities, towns and estates create shapes too.

I love how linear designs can be made to look like 3D structures, even when they are two dimensional, and this is a beautiful feature of contour lines that add extra depth to a designers work.

Adding structural elements means light relief is created through weaving or the layering of materials. I particularly love this when used in paper or fabric due to the tactile nature that is formed.

Contour (noun) 1. (usually contours) An outline representing or bounding the shape or form of something.

1.1 An outline of a natural feature such as a hill.

Contour (verb) 2. Mark (a map or diagram) with contour lines.


Key design styles to be inspired by:

  • Creating light relief by layering materials or drawings that create depth or the illusion of this
  • City grid shapes create a new take on the geometric trend to update this popular theme
  • Mixing natural and man-made materials to represent city and nature (such as wood and resin) in furniture and home accessories
  • Repeated linear patterns. Using lines in an irregular way to create uneven repeats.

Does the lay of the land inspire your work, and if so do you prefer natural or man-made contours? Let me know in the comments or over on Insta!

Joanne Griffin signature

Images sources (clockwise from top left): 1. Tracie Cheng 2. Marnie Karger 3. Eric Zelinski 4. Topographic map 5. Vincent Mauger 6. SummitRidge 7. Huffington Post 8. Lela Rose at New York Fashion Week Spring 2014
P.s. Wanna see more more amazing designs inspired by this topographic trend? Check out my Contour Pattern Pinterest board!

Arnold & Bird surface pattern designs now available as products on Society6!

Bohemian Pink Feathers Surface Pattern throw pillow by Arnold & Bird on Society6
Moody Green Tropical Feather Surface Pattern rucksack by Arnold & Bird on Society6

Exciting news – the range of Arnold & Bird surface pattern designs are now available to purchase as gorgeous home and fashion accessories on Society6!

You’ll find rucksacks, travel mugs, tech cases, throw pillows, leggings, clocks, duvets and so many more products that all feature my exclusive range of repeat designs.

Flowers and Succulents on Black & White Stripes Surface Pattern ceramic travel mug by Arnold & Bird on Society6
Pink Geometric Striped Surface Pattern iPhone case by Arnold & Bird on Society6

Society6 aims is to empower artists around the world to focus on what they do best, create inspiring and unique artwork, while they produce the product and deliver it to customers.

It’s an exciting marketplace that features thousands of artists on a creative and supportive platform. I’m thrilled to be part of it and if you haven’t seen the site before then do check out their awesome range of goodies on offer from all the talented designers in their network.

Navajo Feather Circle Surface Pattern clock by Arnold & Bird on Society6
Geometric Monochrome and Coloured Square Surface Pattern iPad case by Arnold & Bird on Society6

Society6 is home to hundreds of thousands of artists from around the globe, uploading and selling their original works as 30+ premium consumer goods from rucksacks to wall clocks. They create, we produce and fulfill, and every purchase pays an artist. Simple, but huge.

Geometric Monochrome and Coloured Square Surface Pattern t-shirt by Arnold & Bird on Society6
Floating Feathers on Blue Surface Pattern shower curtain by Arnold & Bird on Society6
Moody Green Tropical Feather Surface Pattern leggings by Arnold & Bird on Society6

Do check out the amazing work on Society6 and let me know your fave design, I’d love to hear!

Joanne Griffin signature





Trusting your intuition vs data analysis in product development

Trusting your intuition vs data analysis in product development by Arnold & Bird

When it comes to product development, trusting your intuition vs analysing the data can at times be conflicting.

It’s important to remember that both play a role, as a lot of insight can come from data analysis. However as creatives I feel what lead us to start businesses was not numbers, but the need to create something we loved, or seeing a need that could be fulfilled.

I’ve talked before about staying inspired and how key this is, and you can find a handy inspiration check list here. The key word to note here is inspiration – do you like it, does it make you happy, does it make you want to create something amazing? If not do you really want to put the effort into making something if you’re not excited by it?

This is when data sometimes won’t help you and listening to your gut or your heart is the route you should take.

So let’s say you wanna focus on inspiration and finding things you love. When you’ve researched and found things you’re inspired by the key is to really look at what you love and why.

Below are my tips on how to use the inspiration you’ve gathered to work out how to use it in product development:

  • Print all your inspiration out. Don’t just rely on screens, they can create a barrier and are less personal
  • Make a real like Pinterest board or Blu Tack everything to a wall in an order, randomly or by creating mini mood boards
    • Pretend like you’re at school or university again!
  • Stand back, stand on a chair and sit down to get as many different perspectives on your research as possible
  • What are you instantly drawn to? Why does it stand out
    • Think about colour, texture, theme, pattern and product types
  • Pull out the key images you’re inspired by and create a story and product ideas around these

If you try the above I’d love to hear what you think. Or do you have any tips you can share?

And remember, it doesn’t matter if the data says it’s right or wrong. Just really hone in on what is inspiring you and why to start with!

What’s your preference, gut instinct or numbers? I’d love to hear.

Joanne Griffin signature

Send me my inspiration checklist Free download from Arnold & Bird


Moody tropical – design

Tropical feather repeat surface pattern print design by Arnold & Bird - product development consultancy and design

Following on from the moody tropical research last week I’ve produced a few designs and paintings to reflect this trend.

The deep hues on the feather print is one of my favourite surface pattern designs. I love the colour combination of the dark teal with pops of yellow alongside the simple repeat. I would definitely want this printed onto any stationery products!

Tropical palm leaf painting with exotic animal print by Arnold & Bird - product development consultancy and design

Personally I love the idea of using animal skins as the patterns within other tropical motifs. When you think an illustration should be designed a certain way, you can create a totally different look by adding in a unique pattern to what is expected or accepted.

I’ve added snake scales to this tropical leaf to add texture and a point of difference. More definition on the pattern would be good to develop this further and create something with more impact.

Making a paper leaf bouquet that has pops of animal print in would an an unexpected twist to wedding styling, plus add a fun element to the day.

Tropical bird illustration painting by Arnold & Bird - product development consultancy and design

To add character and a new take on this trend I love the idea of using exotic animals mixed with leaves, tropical undergrowth and sunsets. It would be super cute for kiddos and tweens if the animals had a bit of personality. Plus it also works well for fashion and home accessories too.

This is my bird of paradise with swishy, bright feathers looking to nest somewhere pretty!

What’s your interpretation of this trend and would you use it? Let me know using #ArnoldandBird on Instagram.

Joanne Griffin signature


Photos and designs by Joanne Griffin.



Moody tropical – mood board

Moody tropical trend mood board by Arnold & Bird - product development consultancy and design
The moody tropical trend evokes a sense of escapism, lush abundance and falling deep into those dark hues. I love the contradition between the tropical vibes and how this totally lifts moody colours into something upbeat, friendly and fun.

Palm, fan and ferns leaves have been popular for a few years and pushing the tropical theme into the mass market. You can’t miss it and people seem to love this style. Nature always has a fresh feel to it and makes everyone happy. I think the tropical aspect gets consumers thinking about far flung travels and exotic holidays they want to take. Day dreaming of this is never a bad thing so makes the perfect style to add to your home or wardrobe.

The addition of tropic animals to this trend (both illustrations and their skin prints) updates this theme and adds a new dimension. Mix it with dense and luscious moody colours and you’ve got a new twist on this popular style.


There are many different routes you can take with wild trend and exploring this has been pure wanderlust.


Key design styles I’m inspired by:

  • Distorted tropical shapes that are inspired by the trend but not obviously connected straight away
  • Animal skin patterns used within the shape of other tropical motifs
  • Addition of animals to the theme so it not just about the greenery
  • Pops of monochrome or super bright colours mixed with moody shades
  • Oversized palms that are cut off so you don’t see the whole leaf

Do you love the tropical trend? I’d love to hear your thoughts so comment below!

Joanne Griffin signature


Image sources (clockwise from top left): 1. Matthew Williamson 2. Lia Griffith 3. Amanda Swart 4. PNG Tree 5. Varpu Kronholm 6. Etsy 7. SF Girl by Bay 8. Iori Tomita

Let’s Get Creatively Inspired!

Be determinedly curious and get creatively inspired by Arnold & Bird

Inspiration – it can wake you up in the middle of the night (useful but really not a great time), and sometimes it’s nowhere to be seen.

Creative motivation isn’t going to strike everyday, and working hard at staying energised by seeking out what excites you is key as an entrepreneur.

There are so many ways to stay inspired so I’ve compiled my top list of different ways you can stay ahead of the game. Make sure you pick one that stands out to you, do it and let me know how it goes!



  • Go to an exhibition
  • Visit trade, retail and craft shows
  • Pop ups – everything from a one-off to a local farmer’s market
  • Go on Pinterest (but only with a plan on what to research!)
  • Trend guides from marketplaces such as Etsy, and Folksy
  • Magazines (you can find digital versions on Issuu)
  • Blogs – follow your favourites on a reader like Bloglovin
Get creatively inspired by Arnold & Bird - exhibition
Get creatively inspired by Arnold & Bird - journaling

  • Guided meditations (find one that resonates with you on Youtube)
  • Put on your favourite song and dance around to loosen your body and mind!
  • Journal every day – wake up and do it first (Try The Artist’s Way or The Five Minute Journal)
  • Stand on a chair or in a different part of the room to get a different perspective on your work (instead of just sat at your desk)



  • Get out into nature or be by the sea
  • Leave the studio and work from a different space – try a coffee shop or the garden
  • Visit a historic site or architecture you love


Get creatively inspired by Arnold & Bird - comp shopping

  • Go comp shopping to see what your customer’s seeing, research the market and spot repeating themes between shops in products and visual merchandising
  • Sign up for newsletters from inspiring retailers you like
  • Create regular outings for your team which includes all staff members (even if it’s just you!) and go out for 1-2 hours to the local shops



  • Talk to people, particular early adopters and other innovative creatives
  • Collaborate with your best design pal, old uni friend, reach out to someone new or me – I love to talk!
  • Leave one genuine and heartfelt comment on someone’s social media. Could be someone you follow or search a #hashtag you like and comment on someone’s work who stood out
  • Join a business group or forum you feel inspired by (and doesn’t bring you down) – on or offline

Limit social media time so you don’t get sucked in

Get creatively inspired by Arnold & Bird - be social

Get creatively Inspired free download - Arnold & Bird-

Want the above as a free pretty PDF to put up in your studio? Grab your freebie right here to always have inspiration handy!

Send me my inspiration checklist Free download from Arnold & Bird

What’s your number one way to get inspired? Comment below or on Instagram as I’d love to hear!

Joanne Griffin signature








Greenery – Pantone Colour of the Year 2017 – design

Greenery Pantone Colour of the Year 2017 leaf wreath painting by Arnold & Bird

As discussed last week, my recent designs have a direct link to the Pantone Colour of the Year – hence the mood board on this Greenery trend.

To be really honest when it came to painting I’ve struggled and had my ups and downs over the last few months. You know those times when sometimes it seems ok and at other points it feels like all your creativity has wandered off never to return? Yep, I was there.

So I ordered some decent new paints and sat down (after a little frustrated cry) for five hours, took my time and just painted. And you know what…I loved it again.

The painting above is my initial attempt to ease myself in. The snippet below is the piece I’m really happy with. I’m actually planning on using this in a product so I’m keeping it under wraps for now. Sorry there’s no full reveal yet!

Greenery Pantone Colour of the Year 2017 leaf wreath painting snippet by Arnold & Bird

Does anyone else follow the Pantone Colour of the Year, and if so does it influence your work? I’d love to hear!

Joanne Griffin signature





Greenery – Pantone Colour of the Year 2017 – mood board

Pantone colour of the Year 2017 Greenery mood board trend by Arnold & bird

The Pantone colour for 2017 was released at the end of last year and if you haven’t heard yet…. it’s Greenery!

I’m late to the party writing about this, but my painting this week reflects the mood of this trend so I had to feature it. Kind of a spur of a moment post if you will.

For me, the exact shade of greenery that’s been picked isn’t important. What I love is how Pantone has tapped into the current mood and I think got it really right. Going back to nature, it’s restorative capabilities and bringing a sense of calm in an ever changing world is just what we all need right now.


“Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.” Pantone


Greenery signals freshness, a new start and beautiful ways of combining nature in design. All this equals a 3D mood board I created with leaves from the garden and a whole host of gorgeous product inspiration to be had!

Key design styles I’m inspired by:

  • Greenery is already proving a popular trend for weddings. Use foliage to create a green bouquet (without flowers), table plan or place names
  • Getting children interested at an early age will help to develop their appreciation for nature. Everything from leaf and flower shaped teethers to educational guides for older kids
  • Matcha flavoured and coloured food continues to trend, pair with edible leaf inspired / shaped sweet or savoury treats to bring out a natural vibe
  • Oversized leaves, green watercolour brush strokes and plants popping up in unexpected places such as out of draws, tables and lighting work well for the home

What’s your thoughts on Pantone’s colour for 2017 – are you a lover or a hater?

Or just indifferent!

Joanne Griffin signature

Mood board and photo by me. Image sources (clockwise from top left): 1.Rubelli fabric from old Elle Decoration S/S Pattern Book 2. Notebook from Oliver Bonas 3. Wreath hoop by Annesage 4. Cacti from Ikea 5. Elle Decoration feature in June 2010 6. Feature in old Selvedge magazine 7. Wedding cake by Wedding Sparrow via Borrowed & Blue 8. Jungle print by Schatzi Brown


Favourite sites to be inspired by

Favourite sites to be inspired by - Arnold & Bird

Inspiration – one of my favourite words and let’s face it, who doesn’t love to feel inspired on a daily basis. Visually creative content has a habit of making you internally say, ‘oh wow!’ or even experiencing a little jump of joy inside.

The websites below are my happy places on the internet, somewhere I can go to find something intriguing, beautiful, interesting, helpful or upbeat. Hope you love them too!

Pattern Curator Inspirational website - Arnold & Bird
Sheerluxe Inspirational website - Arnold & Bird
Ecelctic Trends Inspirational website - Arnold & Bird
Oh Joy Inspirational website - Arnold & Bird


Where do you go to find inspiration?

Joanne Griffin signature


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