Metaphor and Analogy in Design

This course is for any student interested in how to communicate design work more effectively and more fully to clients, teammates and even ourselves.

Metaphors, analogies, similes, allegories, metonymies and other visual/verbal devices have fascinated cognitive scientists, therapists, politicians and speechwriters because they have the power to transform the way people think, and how they act in response. Metaphors allow large amounts of information to be assimilated quickly, complicated ideas to be conveyed simply, alternative perspectives to be experienced viscerally and new inferences to be drawn.

Learning Objectives
Skilled use of metaphor and analogy is tricky, but as designers and design planners we need to understand these powerful tools in a more technical manner and build our expertise in applying them. The focus of this course then is to:

  1. Define metaphors, analogies, metonyms—and other variations on the theme—so that we might round out our understanding of what’s possible.
  2. Survey various approaches to and sources of metaphors and analogies, noting the principles that make for effective ones and postulating which approach works best in a given circumstance, so that we have a breadth of examples to draw from.
  3. Make some of our own; there’s nothing like practice to build skill.


Learning Outcomes
Students completing this course will have a working knowledge of how metaphor and analogy can be used in their design work and have practical experience in applying this communication skill to real world challenges.

Managing Interdisciplinary Teams Design Connoisseurship Engaging Stakeholders in Innovation Special Topics Faculty Research Design Process and Knowledge Making the User Centered Case
Modeling Complexity Theories of Communication Fundamentals of Visual Communication Advanced Diagramming Metaphor and Analogy in Design Diagram Development Communication Strategies Communication Design Workshop
Extensions of Media and Technology Interactive Space Interaction Design for Embedded Systems Interaction Design for Immersive Systems Prototyping Interactions Persuasive Interaction Design History of Interaction Design Interaction Design Methods Digital Development Workshop Interaction Design Workshop
Planning + Strategy
Designing Futures Adaptive Leadership Strategies for Open Innovation Organizational Models for Innovation Social and Economic Context of Design New Venture Design Innovation Methods Planning Implementation Business Models and Value Webs Business Frameworks and Strategy Design Planning Workshop Introduction to Portfolio Planning
Design Development & Implementation Product Architecture and Platforms Form and Materials New Product Definition Product Design Workshop
Systems and Systems Theory in Design Networked Objects Networked Cities Human System Integration Systems Modeling and Prototyping Platform-based Design Strategy Systems Approach to Design Information Structuring and Management Structured Planning Workshop Service Systems Workshop
User Research
Stimulus in Design Research Behavioral Economics Online Research Methods Principles and Methods of User Research Coding and Analysis Co-Design and Participatory Research Methods Survey Methods Cultural Probes Experience Modeling Interview Methods Research Photography Research Planning & Execution