Publication details [#12582]

Hadian, Amir Sasan and Mahyar Arefi. 2016. Metaphor, analogy, and the discourse of originality: five Iranian case studies. Social Semiotics 26 (5) : 541–562. 22 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Taylor & Francis Group


In this paper we will observe the roles metaphors and analogies play in architectural design thinking, given that these cognitive mechanisms are frequently used by architects, planners, and designers. While connections between metaphors, analogies, and design thinking have already been explored, the way architects employ them remains unexplored. These conceptual techniques are used in a rather unusual way. The representation of a given metaphor or analogy, as well as its meaning, may vary among individuals. We carry out interviews with five relevant Iranian architects, who have used these devices in their works, which lead us to two inescapable conclusions. On the one hand, this analysis supports the previously-stated fact that designers employ metaphors/analogies according to three categories: problem solving, problem definition, and explaining a problem to others. These mechanisms are sometimes post-rationalized by architects and appear after (opposed to during) the conceptual design stage. On the other hand, metaphors and analogies are likely to explain more complex subjects of public concern, i.e. the authenticity (originality) vs. imitation debate. The imitation debate is still controversial in the Iranian architectural context.