Inspired Design or Theme? What’s The Difference?



Inspired Design or Theme? What’s The Difference?

Many people confuse a theme with design. In fact, they refer to a theme as if it is designed, but what’s the difference and does it really matter?

The answer is YES!  A theme is not “Design”.

Professional designers and artist will attest, there is a significant difference between the two concepts. Design is inspired, and the evolution of a design concept goes through a creative process. A theme does not.




  1. A topic of discourse or discussion.
  2. A subject of artistic representation.
  3. An implicit or recurrent idea; a motif: a party with a Star Wars theme.

Often a theme is mistaken as design. However, there is no creative process associated with a theme. A subject matter or “theme” is a noun meaning it already exist. Whereas, design or the act of designing is a verb and becomes “Art” which is a noun. A theme is not something you can create, because it already exists. It is something to implement. However, any design is a result of the process of creation, as it is inspired and requires the creative process to create something new or fresh.

For example, one couple may choose to have a Star Wars Themed Wedding and another may choose to design a Star Wars inspired Wedding. Click on each image to see the difference between an inspired design and a theme.

All designers from the arts, implement some sort of creative process from applying ideas to a problem, to refining those ideas into a final project. Many times the creative process includes researching what has already been done and being inspired to create something new or a fresh approach to an old concept. A true artist gives the creative process the time it needs to inspire ideas, epiphanies, and iterations leading to a final masterpiece.

The i5 steps to the creative process

  1. Idea Formulation and Preparation – This initial step includes identifying a problem and the resources available to address the problem uniquely.
  2. Incubation – Processing of Ideas and Imagination – The next step includes a compilation of ideas and inspirations to inspire ideas and solutions. A mood board is an example of this step in the creative process.
  3. Illumination – The ah-ha moment or epiphany of ideas that come to mind, or the solution/s to address the problem.
  4. Inspection of Ideas, Evaluations, Inputs, and Approvals – After a solution is realized, the artist will review and ask others for their opinion, feedback, and approval.
  5. Implementation – Iterations & Refinements – The final step includes the implementation of the idea and will often include updates, iterations, and refinements as the final project gets closer to completion.

While the creative process is both a science and an art it is different for everyone. We all approach it in our own way, and our ability to combine our imagination with inspired ideas and concepts sets us apart from one another. It also aligns us with those that appreciate our point of view or artistic eye. Some of the best artistic concepts come from the juxtaposition of unrelated ideas.

When you attend your next event, pay attention to the design and decide if the event has a theme or if it was inspired by design.

Here’s an example:

If a client gave you the following image of a peacock and asked you to plan her wedding what would it look like?

Now take a look at the following images. Can you identify which is a theme or an inspired design?

Inspired Design or Theme? What’s The Difference?