Analogies and Metaphors in Creative Design

J. Hey
Berkeley Institute of Design, University of California at Berkeley
281 Hearst Memorial Mining Building #1764 Berkeley, CA 94720-1764. USA

J. Linsey
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University
314 Engineering/Physics Building, 3123 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-3123, USA

A. M. Agogino
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California at Berkeley
5136 Etcheverry Hall Berkeley, CA 94720-1740. USA

K. L. Wood
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin
ETC 4.146B, M/C C2200, Austin, TX 78712-1063. USA

In our increasingly flat and connected world, skills in innovation and creative design have emerged as key attributes for graduating engineering designers. Metaphors and analogies are commonly voiced as key tools for enhancing creative design yet little research has been performed on their relation to each other and their use within the design process. In this paper we discuss the relationship between metaphor and analogy use in the design process, with a focus on engineering education. We support our discussion with results from interviews and experiments with student designers. Our results highlight that both metaphor and analogy are spontaneously used by student designers and that metaphor dominates as the design tool for early problem-framing design phases whereas analogy dominates as a tool for concept generation. We also present an analysis of the metaphors for our understanding of design in use within Germany, the UK and Mexico. We found an 85 per cent overlap between textbook usages of metaphors in conceptual design in these countries as compared to textbooks authored in the United States, suggesting that cross-cultural differences in design understanding are relatively small in higher education. We close by presenting a design by analogy method to promote and enhance the use of analogy as a skill for graduating engineering designers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s