Metaphors we design by: The use of metaphors in product design by Nazli Cila

Title: Metaphors we design by: The use of metaphors in product design 

Nazli Cila, TU Delft (,

Abstract for AIM presentation 7-3-’14 Imagine a coffee maker that subtly references the serving gesture of a butler (figure 1) or a car that explicitly mimics the sleek and streamlined form of a jet plane. Such metaphors are frequently employed by designers as a means to render the values and meanings they want to assign to a product into a physical form. In this presentation, I will give an overview of the use of metaphors in design domain, investigating a product metaphor’s characteristics and the peculiar type of thought process that generates it. The key questions I intend to discuss are, (1) What and when is a product metaphor? What are their differences from their verbal and pictorial counterparts?, (2) How is a product metaphor generated?, and (3) Which decisions designers take lead to better product metaphors? By giving provisional answers to these questions, I hope to inspire metaphor scholars to study the three-dimensional manifestations of metaphor use as well.


Figure 1: Philips Senseo coffee machine


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