Design through Metaphor

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Degree Programme in Industrial and Strategic Design
Teollisen muotoilun koulutusohjelma
In recent design domain, products are required to provide pleasurable user experience beyond the aesthetic form, function and usability. Metaphors can be an effective tool for designers to fulfill this requirement by understanding the relationship between user and product. Metaphor expresses an unfamiliar concept in terms of a familiar concept. As a communication method, metaphors provide a strong emotional attachment between user and product, because metaphor is our fundamental way of thinking to perceive and interpret things. This study aims to discover how metaphoric expressions play a role in the design domain and to provide designers with perspectives about how to apply it in the design process. It can help designers to deliver meaningful products to users encouraging them to interact with products. This study is progressed in two different parts; the theory and the case study. The theory part defines metaphoric expressions in design with comparison of the verbal use of metaphors. The use of metaphoric expressions is shown from different design approaches as well. Various attributes of metaphors are defined with how these help designers and users. Designer’s intention, user’s context and subtlety are introduced as elements to consist metaphors in design. Finally,the study with examples from products illustrates that metaphor’s value and effectiveness which enhance meaningfulness of products. Findings show that how metaphor is applied in the design process and what metaphor can contribute for designers and users. In the case study part, findings from theoretical study are applied to the actual product design process; smartphone protection cover design. This practice aims to employ metaphors in the actual design process to share the practical process and experience with the evaluation of the outcome. With the project, two different user studies are performed to define user’s context and to evaluate the outcome. This study demonstrates that metaphors perform an important role in the design process, and can be a powerful and effective tool for designers to approach a design practice with new perspectives. On the other hand, metaphors become a familiar source for users to understand products and it can provide them with meaningfulness when they experience the design.
Roto, Virpi
Metaphor, Relationship, Interaction, User experience, Product design
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