When I begin designing a quilt I begin with "who is this for?" . This may be a defined as a particular person or more general such as a teenager, male, who likes sport and autumn toned colours.
For many years I have been interested in the relationship between colours and individuals - initially in terms of choosing clothing that suited my children but this has spread to wider issues. During the 1980's the book
"Colour me beautiful" was very popular here in helping people to choose colours that suited them. This book groups people in to 4 basic groups of colours that look good on them. (Summer Autumn, Winter and Spring)..
Evidently these groupings were based on the research done by Johannes Itten of the Bauhaus Art School in Germany into which colours artists liked to paint. . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Itten
As a mum trying to choose clothes that suited my children I had the challenge of none of them were in the same colour grouping as me. This was important for me as I grew up as one of 4 sisters, 2 of whom were considered pretty (dressed them in the right colours) and the other 2 plain (dressed us in the wrong colours) Over time I came to realize that my children would be far happier if they not only had clothes that suited them but also that the colours used in decorating their rooms also suited them.
Years have rolled by and this has affected my quilt making. I have found that most people like the quilts in their own colour scheme best .. Even when I think it is not so good probably because they are not my colours. In fact I now have a good friend who I go to with some quilts and ask her if it works or not as her colour preferences are different from mine.
When making a quilt for an individual I try to work out their probable colour tastes first and try to work dominantly within that colour range. The effectiveness of this was really brought home to me this week when showing a quilt top to a young teenage boy - initally I was going to offer him one of the quilts from my stack of finished quilts but the more I looked at it the more I realised the colours were wrong for him. Therefore I made the quilt top for him out of scraps and so there was some unusual piecing in the quilt - but that did not matter to him because I had the colour right. He is actually an Autumn - a colour scheme I do not relate to well personally - but by using the colour in the group the quilt does work even though they are not the colours I would personally choose.
The next strand in my inspiration is that I often have to work entirely from stash as there are no local fabric shops. So I look with in my stash for a fabric that I think the person would like by both colour and pattern and work on from there to make a quilt around that key fabric.