Design Rhetoric

Design rhetoric examines the rhetorical principles in designed artefacts regarding their effects. Rhetorical design analysis according to the Bern model attempts to bridge the gap between a close study of designed objects and the discourse (social, political, psychological) that they interact with. This approach then tries to bring together intimate expert-knowledge on why things are designed as they are and how these designs relate to and shape the world at large.

Rhetorical design analysis according to the Bern

The following will be carried out by experienced designers with their own practical experience

  1. recording the formal and functional characteristics of the artefact to be examined (in the vocabulary of design practice)
  2. bringing together the observed characteristics with the presumed effective goals (production-aesthetic assumptions)
  3. (Targeted discussion of the assumptions in the research team and) investigation of the antagonistic effects.
  4. processing of the conflicting goals and, if necessary, development of counter-proposals.

The Bernese model of design rhetorics strongly links to Richard Buchanan design as argument, which he wrote about in “Declaration by Design”. There, he makes the following links between rhetorics and the designed.

A possible workflow/methodology

  1. Catalogue design rules of the inquired objects
    1. Close reading
    2. Collaborative elicitation on overview (Auslegeordnung)
  2. Design rhetoric as outlined above
  3. Elicitation on overview (Auslegeordnung)
  4. Triangulation