Metaphors — Reflections.

Uneeb Faridy
2 min readSep 16, 2020

The ability for stories, language and literature to shape meanings is, as we have established, essential for the propagation of culture. But what arises as part of these cultural establishments? A shared language goes on to create shared meanings — cultural understandings that shorten epic tales into a saying of 3 words. These idioms or proverbs serve a purpose to carry on telling contextual stories to the land they live in — each land has its history. However, what we are here to extract from this sentiment is how these sayings communicate ideas to us, and that is where Metaphors come in.

Metaphors are so useful to us because they do something designers dream about — they communicate a sentiment clearly and in a small amount of time and effort. This skill is one well learned for a designer — the ability to learn and understand how semiotics, signifiers and signified work is one thing, but they also allow us to understand these concepts in a contextual setting. We have also already established that designing for a specific context is important — it is at the very center of the concept of human-centered design.

At last, our study of metaphors allowed us to jump-start into a conversation about usability. Building on our previous lectures in other courses, we utilized our knowledge of Heideggerian philosophy to make sense of tools as extensions of our being — they provide meaning to us, and we to them, through the shared context of human interaction. Expanding on the concept of invisible design, it is important to understand the idea of ready-at-hand and present-at-hand, to understand that good design is invisible — it disappears into our conscious as an extension of our will — the design becomes us. This is further expanded by the idea of invisible totalities — entire functional systems that are not beholden to our vision. The codependent nature of totality and tool is something designers need to understand — design does not exist in a vacuum, in itself and around it. Concluding with the idea of impacting usability and metaphors creating familiarity, we have now built a strong base on which to create, and design.

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