Melbourne 2
late 2022

In The Mood

In The Mood

Long Story, Short

A conversation that brings communities together to assemble sensory moodboards that capture the feeling of their city to inspire future planning.

What We’re Exploring

Beginning with a workshop in each of the cities involved, the project aims to facilitate a conversation between city planners and community members so that space is held for many voices, different knowledges, and potentially competing interests to come to the table with equal influence in the process and product. The local community can contribute meaningful layers of lived experience to future city planners, projects and public policies through sensory forms of data.


This is a living research document. Check in regularly for incremental updates.

Fine print


In the Mood: Melbourne

Each of the In The Mood workshops – held in Barcelona, Brunswick, Melbourne and Ho Chi Minh – were recorded and developed into short highlight reels.

Below is the recap video of the Melbourne workshop, titled ‘Mapping moods for Future Cities‘ held in early October 2022 and presented by Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth and Professor Annette Markham.

Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth


Moodboard workshop in Barcelona.

“Everyone’s voice and opinion is heard at an equal level because its just something visual you can add to” – workshop participant

Highlight reel video from the ‘Mapping moods for Future Cities’ Workshop in Melbourne.

In the Mood: Barcelona

Each of the In The Mood workshops – held in Barcelona, Brunswick, Melbourne and Ho Chi Minh – were recorded and developed into short highlight reels.

We will be progressively sharing the videos from each workshop. First up in the series is the Barcelona Workshop recap, which took place in June 2022 as part of Barcelona Design Week and the New European Bauhaus Festival, and asked questions like:

Moodboard workshop in Barcelona.

“Considering moodboarding as an act of data activism how can it push back against the dehumanizing practices of digitalization?”

Highlight reel video from the ‘Moodboarding as a Method’ Workshop in Barcelona.

“This will just be a moment for you to play around and create. Its just meant to be messy and exploratory and experimental” – Annette Markham

What words describe your mood right now?

In the Mood participants during workshop, Barcelona.

What words describe your mood right now?

Join the conversation by clicking through on our survey below.

Energy Map

What does mood mean in a Vietnamese context?

This is a question Andrew and Catherine asked themselves when designing their In The Mood Workshop in Vietnam. We sat down with Andrew to find out how they answered it!

Energy Map. Image: Andrew Stiff & Catherine Earl.

Andrew: We had anticipated that ‘mood’ maybe a difficult term to translate in Vietnamese. Mood is understood to be about the self and though the students may struggle to see mood as a property of the city. However the students came very quickly to an understanding of the city mood as its ‘vibe’. It should be pointed out that the students English language skills were excellent. We developed a graphic for the students to use that gave them a set of criteria to evaluate the vibe of their city spaces. This energy map presented mood as negative to positive, moving horizontally, and low to high vertically. We added some descriptors despair, serene, elated, and anger, as pointers to the extremes.

Thank you for your insight Andrew!

What did Participants at the Brunswick Workshop have to say?

Moodboarding at the Brunswick Workshop 2022. Image: RMIT PlaceLab.


“Making these I felt like a kid – not thinking, but being playful.”


“It is interesting to think of it as data, as data is usually very literal.”


“I had a hard time trying to figure out how I felt today, but when I started working, something came out that represented my mood.”

Initial Workshop Insights

Initial Workshop Insights from the Brunswick and Melbourne Workshop’s.

Moodboard’s at the Brunswick Workshop 2022. Image: RMIT PlaceLab.

  • Wayfinding and placemaking: The route taken and the sense of getting lost were other common themes impacting participants’ moodboards. The feeling of being lost aroused different moods amongst the participants but was commonly reflected in chaotic shapes and paths within their moodboards. This lack of order in their travels resurfaced in the vernacular of keywords chosen to summarise their moodboards.


  • Textures, representation and non-representational: Given the option of pens and markers, coloured paper, transparency, cellophane, printed images of textures, many participants opted for use of the cellophane, often scrunching it to varying degrees to depict different moods. Moreover, participants largely avoided literal depictions or words to express their ideas and mood, engaging more so with different made and sourced textures. This might suggest that it is easier for some participants express these ideas through texture and tactility (particularly where words might feel limiting).


  • Collaborative visualization: Compared to language-based discussions: Groups exhibited the ability to generate productive and meaningful moodboards together without prior experience of moodboarding or knowledge of each other. In discussing how they felt about the experience, many people described the process of working with non-representational visual materials enabled them to collaborate without worrying about the exactness or accuracy required in group discussions. They also seemed capable of producing sensible and visually legible moodboards in short periods of time. Both these outcomes of the work- shop suggest that nonverbal means of producing mood information may bypass some of the limitations of finding and then agreeing on verbal or language-based responses to questions.

Melbourne Moods

Coloured card arranged as a rainbow.

Moodboarding at the Melbourne Workshop 2022. Image: RMIT PlaceLab.

What did it feel like getting here today?

Anxious – Restful – Cosy – Chaos – Trying To Balance – Fear – Dismal – Dark – Sad – Liberating – Frantic Energy – Calm – Dark Optimism – Rush – Complicated – It Will All Be Good Soon – Fragments – Slowed Down Time – Glad – Excitement – Messy – Togetherness – Irony – Welcoming – Just Holding Everything Together – Frantic – Barraged By Anxiety / Fear – Uneventful – Fear Of Getting Lost / Wanting To Get Lost – On Bike – Inspired – Mixed Feelings – Feel The Wetness – Rainy

DIY: Moodboarding at home

Moodboard’s at the Brunswick Workshop 2022. Image: RMIT PlaceLab.

The method of moodboarding is a process of layering colours, textures, images, words, and objects to create meaning. As an activity, it can be individual or collaborative, offering layers of lived experiences. It captures the richness of sensory data that affects how we feel about ourselves and places.


Now its your turn!

Create your own moodboard using items you have at home! Pens, pencils, cellophane, found objects, paper or anything that inspires you.

Think about: What is the mood of your street? How did the weather make you feel? What would a map pf your journey today look like?

Vietnam Workshop


Moodboarding at the Vietnam Workshop 2022. Image: RMIT PlaceLab.

Facilitated by Andrew Stiff and Catherine Earl this workshop ran for three hours, and was conducted in the Study Melbourne Hub, District 3, Saigon. The workshop was conducted with students studying architecture and anthropology, both of which are schools within the Vietnam National University. The three-hour session was divided into smaller task led components.


Workshop Breakdown

  • Andrew and Catherine introduced the idea of mood, through the idea of heart feeling or heart sentiment.
  • The first task was designed to get the members of the five groups talking comfortably to each other, through introductions and then developing their own understanding of the meaning of ‘mood’.
  • Students were asked to create two maps. The first was between midnight and midday, the second was midday to midnight. Students were free to choose the hours they wished. It was interesting to note that they all picked similar times in the morning, during the journey to the university, which is perhaps when they are engaged the most with the city. The second timeslot reflected student lifestyles and was more varied in times.


The Workshop was presented by RMIT PlaceLab and supported by RMIT Vietnam.

The Vietnam Workshop for the In The Mood Project will be facilitated by Andrew Stiff and Dr. Catherine Earl.

Portrait of a smiling man.

Andrew Stiff. Image: RMIT University.

Andrew Stiff

Andrew Stiff is a lecturer in the School of Communication & Design at RMIT Vietnam. He’s practice focuses on experimental filmmaking processes that explore the space between urban inhabitance and the built environment. Through his studies of urban spaces, he shines a spotlight on the impact of Vietnamese culture on the development of the dense and tight urban spaces of Saigon. The films capture the creation of space through the values of family and community and offer an insight into how cities can develop resilience through the pressure’s urban migration and modernisation.

Portrait of a woman smiling.

Catherine Earl. Image: RMIT University.

Catherine Earl

Dr. Catherine Earl is a Lecturer in Communication and lead of the Cities and Urbanism research cluster in the School of Communication at RMIT Vietnam. She is a First Year Higher Education (FYHE) specialist and holds teaching awards for team teaching and programs that enhance learning. Catherine is a social anthropologist, policy analyst and community educator. Her research interests include sensory studies, experimental ethnographic writing, rise of middle classes, changing nature of work and welfare, mega-urban mobilities, and gender and social change in contemporary Vietnam and Australia. Catherine aims to translate research into practice and policy, especially concerning higher education and gender equity.

Mapping Moods for Future Cities – Melbourne

Have you ever considered what a future “resilient” city would look like?

If we consider moodboarding as a speculative method to inform city planning and policy, How can it help us activate the sensations and impressions of resilience in future cities?

Moodboarding at the Melbourne Workshop 2022. Image: RMIT PlaceLab.

Facilitated by Professor Larissa Hjorth and Professor Annette Markham, this two-hour workshop, invited participants to discuss and participate in playful experiments to generate collaborative maps of the future city of Melbourne, creating layers of resilience to current dystopian and utopian simplifications of our futures. What mood do we want in our future places? What should the future city feel like, if we want to call it “resilient”? And what role can different people play in placemaking?


Workshop Breakdown

  • Larrisa and Annette introduced the idea and premises of maps and their connection to moods.
  • What did it feel like getting here today? Working individually, participants used visual and textural materials in the space to visualise their mood map of the city, based on their own experiences and feelings.
  • What is the mood of the resilient city? Groups were then formed to generate a visual and sensory map of the future city, focusing on mood, and then built additional transparent layers of “resilience” to add to their group map.
  • What might you say to the future city? The workshop finished by discussing the challenges of the exercises, as well as the value of these “maps” for community building, citizens “resetting” their own cities, and planners using these as tools for facilitating more resilient city futures.


The ‘Mapping Moods for Future Cities – Melbourne’ Workshop was presented by RMIT PlaceLab, supported by RMIT’s Digital Ethnography Research Centre and aligned with The Big Anxiety Festival 2022 presented by RMIT University.

Hands cutting

The Melbourne Workshop for the In The Mood Project was co-facilitated by Larissa Hjorth.

Professor Larissa Hjorth

Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth is a digital ethnographer and socially-engaged artist School of Media & Communication at RMIT. From 2023 she will be an Australian Research Council Future Fellow examining grief in media. Hjorth has two decades experience leading mobile media projects to explore innovative methods around intergenerational connection, intimacy, games, play, loss and death in the Asia-Pacific region (Japan, South Korea, China and Australia). Hjorth has also worked extensively on how mobile media is used for grief, loss and recovery – including the Fukushima disaster (2011), Queensland floods (2011) and Australian bushfires (2020). She is passionate about creative, inventive and playful methods for community engagement, communication science and research translation.

Hjorth has over 150 publications on the topic as well as non-traditional outputs like exhibitions. In 2020, Hjorth was named one of the top 40 lifetime researchers by The Australian – this was equated by h-index (42 [citation matrix]) over the course of a career. Hjorth has a strong track record in research grant leadership and has received over $4 million in grants in Australia and internationally including 3 ARC LP s, 2DPs and Australian Council for the Arts New Media fellowship. Hjorth has extensive leadership experience including Deputy Dean of Research & Innovation (the School of Media & Communication) and Design & Creative Practice ECP Platform (2017-2022).

Mapping Moods for Future Cities – Brunswick

Have you ever considered how cities measure our moods?

The human experience is increasingly captured through digitised data, but how can a mood be quantified, represented or imagined? And how might this information be used by the city for the wellbeing of its citizens?

Moodboarding at the Brunswick Workshop 2022. Image: RMIT PlaceLab.

Facilitated by Professor Annette Markham, the two-and-a-half-hour Workshop asked participants to actively participate in and contribute to playful experiments to generate collaborative “moodmaps”, expressing some of the moods of Brunswick in a post-pandemic time of recovery. Discussions of how sensory and textural experiences like ‘mood’ can become meaningful information, data or even maps for city planners and policy makers, as they try to build better futures in times of global crisis and recovery facilitated the creation of the ‘moodmaps’.


Workshop Breakdown

  • Annette introduced the idea and premises of “moodboarding as a method for citizen social science”.
  • What did it feel like getting here today? Participants were then asked to work with visual and textural materials in the space to visualise “moods” based on prompts from Annette.
  • What is the mood of this part of the city? Group walks were interjected amongst the creation of moodboards to allow participants to collectively experience the mood and collect sensory impressions of Brunswick. Upon return, the group created maps together of what they had experienced.
  • How can moodboards produce visual and textural layered accounts of lived experience? The workshop finished by discussing the challenges and value of the exercise, as well as moodboarding or other creative layering, as a form of data production, citizen social science, or city engagement.


The ‘Mapping Moods for Future Cities – Brunswick’ Workshop was presented by RMIT PlaceLab and supported by RMIT’s Digital Ethnography Research Centre.

What is Citizen Social Science?

Hands moving over yellow, red and black materials.

Moodboarding at Brunswick Workshop 2022. Image: RMIT PlaceLab.

Citizen Science is a recent phrase to depict the way citizens can contribute to large-scale solutions by doing science in their back yard. We might think of people reporting certain types of birds or butterflies to add to local datasets that are used at research labs or contribute to national or international databases. Citizen social science is similar in that people in communities are conducting research, but the ‘data’ they generate is for themselves and their own local enclaves. Moodboarding seems a long way away from ‘data collection’, but both methods are just tools – tools to collect meaningful information that is useful for understanding society.

The PlaceLab-er’s sat down with Professor Annette Markham to learn more about why she chose to utilise moodboarding, what you can do with the materials and what In The Mood is really all about.

Melbourne Moodboarding Workshop. Image: RMIT PlaceLab.

Why Moodboarding?

Annette: This project on “moodboarding” is the latest in a long line of arts-based interventions to make non-tangible forms of data more visible for citizens and policymakers alike. In the course of everyday life, so much of what it means to live in a place is invisible to the eye and ear because it is a sensation in the body or a feeling in the mind. Especially in these times, when data-driven technologies focus our attention on the numeric and quantifiable aspects of human actions and behaviours, it is vital to find ways to make sure we don’t fail to account for the rich, textural, non-quantifiable aspects of human experiences. Focusing on mood is a way of pushing back against the dehumanising tendencies of data analytics.

Why ‘moodboarding’ rather than some other activity to study affect in the city?

Annette: Moodboarding is a practice of arranging colours, shapes, and textures on a flat surface (board) to evoke or convey a particular feeling. It’s a form of visual layering that focuses our attention on how something feels rather than what it means. Moodboarding disrupts the logics of description and explanation. It is one of many forms of expression that seek to find and evoke affect – affect in this case referring to a pre-cognitive visceral sensation that happens just before we invoke some sort of cognitive logic and language to find a word to describe it to ourselves or someone else. Playing with arts and crafts supplies is a surprisingly easy and effective way to generate and then visualize some of these affective layers without thinking too much about it. By evoking mood in layers of texture and colour rather than words, we find a different type of material evidence of lived experience.

Moodboard from Melbourne’s Moodboarding Workshop. Image: RMIT PlaceLab.

What do you do with these materials?  

Annette: For one thing, these experimental participatory workshops are for the participants themselves to explore the textural, sensory, and non-verbal ‘moods’ they’re feeling. But beyond the individual satisfaction of playfully generating these moodboards, people can work together to figure out what should or could be done with this material, or this affectively oriented way of knowing. Is this a valuable practice for people to explore what’s happening that is meaningful or disturbing to them and their communities? Is it evidence of some sort and how could it be added to the more quantitative forms of data that cities increasingly rely on for future city planning?

Thanks, Annette! We appreciate your insight into the In The Mood research project.

Professor Annette Markham

Annette Moodboarding at the Brunswick Moodboarding Workshop. Image: RMIT PlaceLab.

Annette Markham has been studying the impact of digital technologies on identities, relationships, and societies since the mid-1990s. Her pioneering sociological studies are well represented in her earliest work, Life Online: Researching Real Experiences in Virtual Space; (1998, Alta Mira). Annette’s more recent work focuses on innovative methods for building digital literacy in the public sphere through creative workshops and arts-based interventions. She has conducted workshops, PhD courses, and exhibited work in UK, Denmark, Canada, USA, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland.

Annette’s work on moodboarding emerged in 2018 with the development of a PhD course to explore how visual methods like moodboarding could be used to enhance ethnographic fieldwork techniques. Participants spent a week generating moodboards in response to immersion in the particular weather and cultural uniqueness of the Danish west coast. Mapping moods emerged again in 2020, as Annette collaborated with people in 26 countries to build layered and textural accounts of their experiences of lockdowns during COVID. In 2022, PlaceLab and Annette Markham are collaborating to explore how people make sense of moods in their cities, in the past pandemic, the present, and the speculative near future.

This series of workshops, held in Barcelona, Melbourne, Brunswick, and Ho Chi Minh City, gives citizens the opportunity to build rich and textural mood maps of the social and cultural aspects of life in digitally-saturated social contexts. Their moodboards are prompted by the idea that focusing on mood as a form of ‘data’ can push back against the dehumanising tendencies of automated data-collection about citizens.

Annette’s extensive experience with community workshops has led a strong recognition that when citizens become ethnographers of their own lives and communities, the gain confidence that their local knowledge practices can produce rich insights that are not only useful in a local sense, but can add value to discussions at the level of municipalities, cities, and regions. These workshops help people recognize that citizens can generate complex forms of ‘data’ about their desires or needs. When it comes to generating information about the mood or affective feeling of a place, how might these moodboarding exercises help city planners or technology designers make more informed decisions?

Annette Markham currently holds a Professorship within the School of Media and Communication and is Co-Director of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT University. She also holds a fractional appointment as Professor of Information Studies and Digital Design at Aarhus University in Denmark. Her written works are published broadly and can be found at

Moodboarding as a Method

Moodboard using slices of paper overlayed in pink, red and grey.

Moodboard from Barcelona workshop 2022. Image: RMIT PlaceLab

Professor Annette Markham facilitated a “Moodboarding as a Method” Workshop in Barcelona. Questions such as “How can mood and moodboarding work as a speculative tool for citizens to imagine future designs for sustainable and resilient cities?” were posed in a half-day workshop that invited participants to discuss and participate in playful experiments to generate collaborative moodboards. Expressions of some of the moods of Barcelona in a post-pandemic time of recovery were captured.


Workshop Breakdown

  • Annette introduced the idea and premises of ‘moodboarding as a method for transgressing smart city data’.
  • Participants were then invited to work with supplied materials and visualise ‘moods’, based on prompts from Annette. Forming smaller teams, participants created a visual and sensory ‘moodboard’ of their current and imagined future city, leading to discussions of the challenges and value of the workshop, as well as moodboarding or other creative layering, as a form of data production, citizen social science, or city engagement.
  • The workshop concluded with a speech from Annette about the project and the day’s process and outcome, followed by short statements from key stakeholders, such as City Representatives, Marta Fernandez and a BDW Representative. An exhibition of the moodboards was then opened to viewers and participants to consider.


The “Moodboarding as a Method” Workshop was presented by RMIT PlaceLab as part of Barcelona Design Week 2022, the New European Bauhaus Festival and co-sponsored by RMIT Europe. Special thanks to Patricia Lore and Marta Fernandez of RMIT Europe.

In The Mood at Melbourne Knowledge Week

Melbourne Moodboarding Workshop. Image: RMIT PlaceLab.

RMIT PlaceLab was introduced as RMIT University’s new research initiative at Melbourne Knowledge Week in May 2022. This included a first look at our research projects for Cycle 01, including In The Mood.

The event was held at The Capitol as part of the RMIT Culture Talks series. Researcher Dr Annette Markham spoke about the In the Mood Research Project, asking the community what words best described their mood during the pandemic and throughout the last week.

Follow along here with the In The Mood project, as we explore how sensory moodboards can capture the feeling of cities.

A woman gives a speech at the podium at the Capitol Theatre.
A panel discussion sits on the stage at the Capitol venue.
A crowd of people chats after the event.

Photos from Melbourne Knowledge Week 2022. Images: RMIT University.

RMIT PlaceLab acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the Eastern Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University.

RMIT PlaceLab respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present, as the original and continuing Makers of Place.

Melbourne 1
late 2022

Voices From The Margins