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The life cycle of a generative design metaphor

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  • Graham Dove, New York University
  • ,
  • Caroline Emilie Lundqvist
  • ,
  • Kim Halskov

Metaphor's generative power is commonly acknowledged, but typically studied through the impact of a chosen metaphor on the designed product. In this article we take a longitudinal approach, tracing a generative metaphor through a yearlong design process. We report a case study in which the metaphor 'Plant a Seed' provides the pivotal focus in the design and implementation of an interactive media architecture installation in the botanical gardens in Aarhus, Denmark. We show how the particular context of this site, and the repertoire of the project's participants (including their competencies and interests), provide material for constructing this metaphor. We then show how, after it is established, the metaphor is maintained through subsequent design and implementation activities; including the installation's public promotion. Within this timeline, we offer a closer analysis of the metaphor's shaping and validation during a co-design workshop. Our analysis extends current understanding of how a generative metaphor is grounded, shaped and maintained during collaborative design activities; and of how this apparently lightweight construct has the strength and flexibility to become the cornerstone framing design work over an extended period.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNordiCHI 2018 : Revisiting the Life Cycle - Proceedings of the 10th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction
Number of pages12
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication year29 Sept 2018
ISBN (Electronic)9781450364379
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2018
Event10th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, NordiCHI 2018 - Oslo, Norway
Duration: 29 Sept 20183 Oct 2018


Conference10th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, NordiCHI 2018
SponsorNorwegian Semiconductors, Oslo Metropolitan University, Oxford University Press, The City of Oslo, Tobii pro, University of Oslo

    Research areas

  • Design collaboration, Design process, Generative metaphor, Longitudinal study, Media architecture

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