Skip to Main Content
of desiGn

Design Rhetoric

Design Rhetoric

Exposes students to practical application of narrative tools to help them communicate challenging, ambiguous, and new-to-the-world ideas more effectively.

This course provides a wealth of knowledge to help designers be more intentional in how they communicate their ideas with others.
—Former student

Objective & Outcomes

Designers cannot afford to communicate poorly, no matter who the audience is. But truly great communicators succeed through deliberately constructing arguments that build on existing mental models while stretching the audience’s understanding: making the strange familiar and the familiar strange. This course looks at how to bring ideas to life in a logical and compelling case through the use of proven rhetorical tools: framing, emotional appeals, evidence, and narrative structure.

Upon completing this course, students can make informed communication choices and adapt communication to different contexts.

Typical Schedule

  • Session 1: Introduction to Rhetoric as a Design Tool
  • Session 2: Framing & Form: Shaping the Narrative
  • Session 3: Metaphor (Making the Strange Familiar) & Narrative Rationality
  • Session 4: Semiotics & Ideology: The cultural construction of meaning
  • Session 5: Testimony: Building a rhetorical case through evidence
  • Session 6: In-Class Case Study: Applying rhetorical skills to a user research challenge
  • Session 7: Final Presentations