Source selection in product metaphor generation: The effects of salience and relatedness

Nazli Cila, Paul Hekkert, Valentijn Visch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


To generate a product metaphor, designers must select a source, discern a property (or properties) of this source, and transfer this property to the product they design. The selection of any source in particular is affected by the extent to which it represents the meaning the designer intends to convey (i.e., its salience), and the strength of its association with the product (i.e., relatedness). In this paper, we tested how different levels of salience and relatedness influenced source selection in a study conducted with design students. The results indicate that a source was chosen only when it had the intended meaning as a highly salient property, and was highly related to the target product. It was also found that being novel yet understandable, having application potential, and creating a complete, functional product were also considered as source selection criteria by designers. This study aims to relate linguistic theories on metaphors to the domain of product design, and help to clarify how designers create comprehensible and aesthetic metaphors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-28
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Design
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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