How could rhetoric influence information design?

Design and Rhetoric

Visual design and rhetoric have been closely interwoven since antiquity: from ancient image theories to the image programs of the Renaissance to advertising graphics of the 20th century. The explicit preoccupation with these contexts is relatively young, however, and began in the 1960s, when Gui Bonsiepe first presented a modern elocutio of visual-verbal rhetoric. The focus was initially on the rhetorical figures: Is there hyperbole, metonymy or ellipse not only on a verbal but also on a visual level? The projects in the research field extend the rhetorical view of communication design to its diverse modes of action, whereby rhetoric is understood as the art of persuasion in a comprehensive sense: Not only the screaming advertising poster, but also the cautious signage of public transport or the simple stationery of a law firm is under considered the aspect of impact-oriented communication. Another central common feature of design and rhetoric is the close interplay between theory and practice: Both can be taught theoretically, but ultimately the skill only comes with practice. Theoretical knowledge about rhetoric or design is also enriched - indeed it can only arise - through precise observation and analysis of one's own and other people's practice. The research projects in the field are based on this feedback process between theory, practice and analysis.

The international 1st Bern working meeting on visual rhetoric brought together the most important researchers on visual rhetoric in German-speaking countries in January 2014. In 2016, the 2nd Bern working meeting on visual rhetoric continued this tradition under the heading “Terror and Legitimation”. Both symposia are documented on the web journal designrhetorik.de.

Core competencies

  • Rhetorical design analysis based on the Bern model
  • History and theory of visual rhetoric, design rhetoric, media rhetoric
  • Practice-based research in all fields of visual design
  • Empirical observation of impact models and rule aesthetics in design