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Gestalten in Metaphern


This project was created as part of my master’s thesis at the Basel School of Design. In and with it the metaphorical nature of many design concepts got studied.
 The thesis project builds on the following premise: Given that design decisions are not purely arbitrary but rather based on conscious as well as unconscious thought processes, an analysis of the way we think should enable us to shed a light on how we design. There are different theories of cognition, which could help us doing just that. Among those, the conceptual metaphor theory is quite promising. It helps to describe and analyze a prominent type of thinking in graphic design: the so-called metaphorical thinking, which in its essence refers to all instances of “understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another”. 1
 In “Gestalten in Metaphern” – which means as much as “Designing in Metaphors” in English – I explored different design concepts and analyzed their metaphorical structure. I collected and described some of the most common metaphorical concepts, but also looked into the creative potential of more unconventional metaphorical concepts that wer purposefully used to create truly original results. In this context, works from designers such as Julia Born, Irma Boom, Fons Hickmann, Claudiabasel, Ralph Schraivogel and many more were discussed in order to illustrate the crucial role of these unconventional metaphorical design concepts, when looking at their creative work.
 The final outcome of this study was the development of a method that helps to inspire an initial design concept, based on which an original piece of graphic design can be developed. The conceptual metaphor theory was boiled down to what can be seen as a pragmatic tool for creative people who are struggling against the paralyzing void of the empty sheet of paper in front of them.


1 Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 5.