M.A.D. is an opinion column on Marketing, Advertising, and Design in Vietnam. 

Pinterest is the new PowerPoint. Another tool misused by designers and clients.

What it is: an inspiration board of images pinned from all corners of the Internet.

What it isn’t: a copier.

Let’s say you’re designing a new chair for a client. You’d go on Pinterest to get inspired by a chair that someone’s father created or a chair that the Eames made famous. Tweak it. Add special touches. Like they say, it’s not where you take it from, it’s where you take it to.

The problem is when designers simply take the chair and reproduce it. Or when clients simply show you the chair they want you to “design”.

There’s nothing wrong with Pinterest, just like there’s nothing wrong with PowerPoint. But I blame its misuse on the proliferation of the same minimal Kinfolk cafes and industrial restaurants in every city with a craft brewery. You know the type. Exposed bricks. Edison light bulbs. Eames chairs. Reclaimed wood. In Vietnam, take all of that design clichés and add ceramic tiles. (The same could be said for funky open plan start-up offices. But that’s for another day.)

Cliches Collage from Pinterest We’ve used Pinterest at The Lab Saigon too. But we’re careful—if not always successful—to avoid reproducing anything.

Here’s one of our designs and its inspiration on Pinterest:

Inspiration from Pinterest and Design

Here’s one that we stole:

Pinterest inspiration and our design And here’s one that we designed from inspirations found elsewhere:

Pinterest inspiration and our design

(See more designs here.)

In the past year, I implemented a company-wide ban on starting a design project on Pinterest. Our designers seem to be doing just fine. But just as we designers leave Pinterest, clients flock to it.

Also in the past year, we had 3 different clients ask us to work based on designs they collected on Pinterest. All 3 projects died. This is why.

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