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Metaphors are a powerful tool for designers to ideate and communicate complex ideas. A visual aid to help extend these metaphors and explore them… Read More
Metaphors are a powerful tool for designers to ideate and communicate complex ideas. A visual aid to help extend these metaphors and explore them further can boost creativity and help explore new ideas. This tool is a visual representation of a metaphor database that allows the user to explore the metaphors in a fun, playful, and versatile way. Read Less
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Summer after Freshman year I had the opportunity to intern in the Berkeley Institute of Design with Mark Fuge.  Under him, my summer project was to design the user interface for a tool to help designers explore conceptual metaphors to boost creativity.
 
Metaphors are a powerful tool for designers to ideate and communicate complex ideas.  A visual aid to help extend these metaphors and explore them further can boost creativity and help explore new ideas.  This tool is a visual representation of a metaphor database that allows the user to explore the metaphors in a fun, playful, and versatile way.
Lets say we're designing a car.  
 
I might say, "I want the car to be like a cheetah! Fast and sleek."  Well, what else is a cheetah that we might want our new car to be like?  
 
Let's enter it in our metaphor tool and find out.
After you enter the word, it explodes out with different associated words.  Exhilarating is a good word to describe a car, lets explore that further and see what we get.
As you double click exhilarating, the word again explodes out with more associated words to help you explore new possibilities and ideas. 
 
Maybe the connection between a surfer and a car was never something you would have thought of otherwise?  Maybe it sparks a great new idea.  
You can pin words you like to help you keep track of your ideas.
 
The metaphor tool effectively increases free association in the brain by introducing similar topics to the ones you are already considering.  In doing so, it will boost the breadth of your ideation sessions and increase the likelyhood you will come up with a killer idea.
The UI also includes various rollover funciontalities and a zoom function for screen overflow.  You can play with the live version here.