To Create an Authentic, Meaningful Narrative for a Design Project
Bryan Howell, IDSA, Industrial Design Department, Brigham Young University
Many design students solve design problems through “cool” form, material and color solutions that in the end don’t resonate with their peers, or their professors. What method can design educators use to help move young designers beyond shallow design solutions and into solutions that are meaningful to the student, their peers and a target audience? This paper will outline how to use rhetorical tropes (figures of speech) in design projects to lead students through the generation of authentic, meaningful design narratives that articulate clear, memorable design solutions that resonate with contemporary culture.
First, the terms “meaningful design” and “rhetorical tropes” should be defined.
A meaningful design solution on any design project evokes positive emotions, passions, memories, and understanding and often causes delight in the target audience. Meaningful design solutions incorporate a narrative that comprises a variety of ideas and a dominant story that is understandable and clear. If the narrative is smart, and the solution’s form, materials, and colors enhance the developed story, then the design solution should resonate with an audience. Using tropes in the design process naturally frames the design problem through the generation of a narrative for the design to follow.
Tropes are defined as the use of a word or expression as changed from the original signification to another, for the sake of giving life or emphasis to an idea. Commonly, tropes are often called “figures of speech.” Of the hundreds of tropes in literature only a few dozen are typically known and used in daily life; examples being metaphor, hyperbole, pun, irony and so on.