Metaphors in design problem solving: Implications for creativity

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Metaphors help designers to understand unfamiliar design problems by juxtaposing them with known situations. Retrieving concepts from metaphors demands creative thinking. While the importance of this heuristic has been acknowledged in design, more research is needed to appreciate its contribution to design practice. This investigation aims to assess metaphor use by students in design problem solving, with a particular focus on design creativity. Relationships between factors of creativity and factors of metaphors were submitted for statistical analyses. Findings show that innovation is the most significant factor characterizing design creativity, followed by utility and aesthetics. On the other hand, the synthesis of design solutions is the stronger factor of the use of metaphors, and conceptual thinking the weakest. Results also demonstrate that metaphors play an important role in design creativity. Analysis of design problems was the predictor that had a unique contribution to innovation and general creativity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Design
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Architecture
  • Creativity
  • Design-Problem-Solving
  • Metaphors


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