The activity of rhetoric in the process of a designer's thinking

  • Louise Valentine

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Research is concerned with communication of design thinking, from the perspective of a designer, and in relation to the process, product, and user experience of design. It is a study of the act of persuasion within the process
    of a designer’s thinking, and is concerned with interpretation of the relation between words and images. The role of technology, intuition, and visual thinking are identified as three key components of design thought, and the way these three constituent parts inter-relate is the subject matter of inquiry.

    Research is conducted from a theoretical and practical perspective, and throughout the inquiry, a balance between subjective and objective information
    is retained. An essentially holistic approach to understanding the designer’s decision-making process is adopted, and as such, the research does not separate the act of thinking from the act of doing.

    The inquiry concentrates on exposing the tacit dialogue of a designer through
    a series of five discourses. Each discourse begins with a preface, a contextual statement that frames the line of inquiry. The first discourse introduces the research methodology; discourse two reviews the literature surrounding communication of design thinking, and observes the design process through documentation and communication of 97 examples; discourse three interviews five professional designers and listens to how they visually communicate the physical and emotional experience of being a designer; discourse four questions a designer’s tacit understanding of visual thinking and exposes the surrounding assumptions, and the fifth discourse closes this inquiry by communicating the activity of rhetoric, describing rhetoric as the relation and inter-relation between the implicit and explicit processes of looking, listening and questioning.

    The visual methodology provides a context that allows the designer’s qualities
    of judgement and experience to become subjects in themselves. Each discourse attends to the unfolding nature of a network of relationships that developed amongst the roles of intuition, visual thinking and technology. In doing so, the inquiry proposes to contribute to knowledge by: communicating the significance of visual thinking as a methodology for doctoral design research; the role of computer technology as a tool for looking, listening and questioning the activity
    of rhetoric; intuition as a facilitator of rhetoric and rhetoric as an interrogator of intuition.
    Date of Award2003
    Original languageEnglish


    • Design thinking
    • Design processing
    • Rhetoric
    • Technology
    • Visualisation
    • Intuition
    • Management

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