Metaphors – Icons and Representations

A Metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. Usually its regarded as representative or symbolic of something else. Metaphors
are often used in both graphical and tangible interfaces.

In this exercise, students groups of two were asked to create metaphors for common actions. Each group identified a control/button/lever in the CIID building and created a visual metaphor as a sketch – with the intention of changing the behaviour of the object influenced by the control.

They then showed it to another group and asked them to derive an explanation based on the metaphor, repeating the process at least three times. They then picked one of the metaphor sketches and drew it as an icon in a grid of 50 x 50 and then represented the same in a more abstract grid of 20 x 20. Each group then had to explain the journey from concept to icon.

Concepts explored: Metaphors, graphical representation, graphic design, abstraction