Rhetoric and Design

Glenn Ballard, Lauri Koskela

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design, Design for Harmonies Vol 2
Subtitle of host publicationDesign Theory and Research Methodology
EditorsUdo Lindemann, Srinivasan Venkataraman, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes
Event19th International Conference on Engineering Design: Design for Harmonies - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 19 Aug 201322 Aug 2013
Conference number: 19

Publication series



Conference19th International Conference on Engineering Design
Abbreviated titleICED 2013
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of


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