Rhetoric and design

DS 75-2: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED13), Design for Harmonies, Vol.2: Design Theory and Research Methodology, Seoul, Korea, 19-22.08.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Ballard, Glenn; Koskela, Lauri
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: University of California Berkeley, United States of America; 2: University of Salford, United Kingdom
Page(s): '001-010
ISBN: 978-1-904670-45-2
ISSN: 2220-4334


The relationship between rhetoric and design has been the subject of numerous scholarly publications in the last fifty years, but has not been addressed by scholars of engineering design. This paper argues that the relationship is important for theory and practice of design in all its varieties, principally by providing evidence from the literature that rhetoric and design share key characteristics. Both
- are broadly applicable across subject matters
- concern the particular and the probable
- require invention and judgment, and
- involve arrangement in space and time
From ancient times through the Renaissance, rhetoric was a key element in education, and its methods were widely adapted to other arts, including design. Rhetoric's loss of status in modern times is explained, and its resurgence in the latter part of the 20th century is described through the works of three scholars that focus on the relationship between rhetoric and design. The conceptualization of these scholars is best represented in the view that rhetoric is design limited to words and design is rhetoric with an unlimited palette.

Keywords: Design, invention, rhetoric, theory


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