Sep 12, 201312:00 PMPoint of View
Designing with Metaphors
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We’ve also begun using such metaphors to tackle less tangible work for services, organizations, and brands. Putting a sharp angle on an object, for example, makes it less user-friendly. And I can apply that physical experience to a retail service moment by “taking the edge off” metaphorically. The discovery of embodied cognition is freeing. It implies that we needn't rely on fashionable methodologies and instead can look to intuition, supported by science, to arrive at design solutions. There are other aspects of the creative process, of course: inspiration, novelty, craft. Still, I can't resist human truths. Embodied cognition has given us (and our clients) a new lexicon for intuition and a confidence that we're making solid (that is, sturdy and dense) choices.
Visual concept by Mitch Sinclair with Jane Fulton Suri, Ingrid Fetell, Jeewon Jung, Michael Hendrix, and Gian Pangaro
Many metaphors from everyday language are based on real-life visceral experiences. Our perceptions of these experiences associate them with broader concepts and deeper meaning (e.g. literally feeling "warm" vs. the concept of "warm" as being inviting, friendly, etc). As designers, we can influence perception by stimulating the viewer's five senses to invoke broader conceptual associations. While we are used to doing this intuitively, scientific studies in the field of embodied cognition provide additional support to our rationale. We’ve prototyped this tool to make associations easier and welcome additions to improve it.
R. Michael Hendrix is an associate partner and managing director of IDEO Boston.