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.