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Design and Metaphor

This course introduces you to the way metaphorical thinking operates across a range of disciplines, including design, the sciences and the humanities. You’ll be guided through an approach to learning that uses low-fi prototyping techniques and activities used in design practice to obtain insight from people when ideas are in their formative stages of development.

About this course

In this course you will develop an understanding of how metaphorical thinking has been operating in multiple disciplinary contexts. As we journey through history, you’ll see that it provides a rich archive from which designers and creative content producers can draw to create new ideas and to frame their work. You’ll gain insights to developing new techniques and have guided learning activities that will leave you with better practice creative concepts and the necessary insights to arrive at final outcomes.

Course Structure 

  • The material basis of metaphorical thinking and poetic design
  • Metaphor operating across the disciplines
  • Metaphors and concepts: making the abstract meaningful
  • Applying metaphorical thinking to your own context


Why you should do this course

  • Learn about the different ways metaphor is defined and the other concepts to which it is related
  • Gain an awareness of the way metaphor structures our perception and thinking
  • Learn how to obtain insight from everyday things, materials and substances by using metaphorical thinking
  • Look at examples from history where metaphors have been used to help make important new discoveries easier to understand
  • Create, apply and evaluate your own metaphors using a variety of low-fi prototyping techniques used in design disciplines
  • Learn how to apply metaphor to seemingly abstract or intangible phenomena to make them more meaningful
  • Appreciate how this rich and wide-ranging understanding of metaphor is particularly useful for areas of specialisation relating to design, ranging from data visualisation, to interaction design
  • Gain insights from UTS’s Master of Design

Who is this course for?

This course is for industry professionals wanting to explore metaphorical thinking in the formative stages of design and product development prototyping. 

Free course


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Self paced

Meet the Expert

Thomas Lee

Thomas Lee
Senior Lecturer

I am a design theorist and researcher whose work focuses on the experiential dimensions of technology, materials and spaces. I am particularly concerned with the distinctive feelings and forms of networked, consumer oriented culture that characterise life in wealthy democracies after WWII. This includes the massive proliferation and diversification of leisure oriented experiences associated with music, food and exercise that have been augmented by mobile computing technology.

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