Documentation Design?

Hi, I am not sure where to post this, so I’ll start here.

I am doing some research into a career change. I am keenly interested in design (apparel, furniture… ), and would like to further my career in a design environment using my communication, interpersonal, and writing skills.

Is there a field in Design that combines writing and design?
I imagine there must be such a thing as documentation design?
Is there anyone is your company that does most of the design communication through writing, research, or presentation of ideas?

Your insider insights are appreciated!

Probably not for apparel or furniture since they’re style-based.
But for more complex systems (products, software, architecture) there are many options:

Proposal Writer
Technical Writer (manuals etc.)
Requirements Analyst (high demand in the software world)
Design Strategist

Cooper invented a role called “design communicator” but I haven’t seen this role anywhere else:

Interesting, thanks for your clear response and for the link.

Do you know anything about IIT in Chicago? I’m wondering if this might be a place for me to open some doors in this direction. It seems directed solely around user research but I imagine the skills aquired in that type of program would be transferable to a few different areas of research, strategy and documentation in a variety of design fields. (Or could produce a ‘design communicator’). Granted, as you suggested, this would be in the fields with greater complexity (and money involved), and not necessarily the ones I’m interested in working in.

I think you’re on the right track with IIT. They’ll do just what you’re looking for.

I think you would fit in design research, design concepts, design theory(although this is mostly based in publishing books), or even design economics. These are all disciplines that force you to think more than do.

I would recommend the Köln International School of Design ( in Cologne, Germany if you are looking at any of these fields. (In the interest of full disclosure I do attend KISD, but I’m not paid to say this kind of stuff.) It is highly based on conceptualization and research, more thinking than drawing. In addition it’s got cheap tuition even for internationals. At 750 euros a semester it’s a great deal. Currently students have to have german language ability, but this is changing as well, since most of the courses can be offered in English on demand.

Just to clarify:

Do you want to be a design researcher and use your writing skill set?

Or a Furniture or Apparel designer?

Thanks for the continued response.

Yo, I am still trying to clarify myself what direction I should pursue.

I come from a crafts background (I am a prop builder at the largest opera company in Canada where I work in metal, wood, fabrics and plastics, and I have my own successful accessories line), and I am ready to expand into new areas. My hands are tired, so to speak, and I want to start using my writing, planning and communication abilities, as opposed to my pure doing and making abilities.

As I narrow down my strengths and interests I am trying to see where I might thrive in a design environment. I am still researching what types of roles exist that might be a fit for me to transition into, using the specialized crafts knowledge that I have.

I am pushing myself towards design research partially because I believe there is a great opportunity for employment here and opportunity to make a good living.

And Lou thanks for the link to the Koln school.

I would be apprehensive to go to a school based in Germany, even if the courses were taught in English, it would be very difficult to fit into the student body, and the business contacts I would make would all be German, and I plan to live and work in Canada or the US.

No Problem. I can understand the apprehension. I am an american myself studying at KISD and I find that I mostly get international contacts. Some of these people are german wanting to go elsewhere, others are already from other countries and planning to move in. The whole school has a very good international vibe to it.

To further this discussion…

I have been finding out more about the world of design research and I see how it crosses over with Anthropology and there seems to be this whole offshoot of people working in what I want to call AnthroDesign.

So again IIT seems to be a good fit for this. (Unfortunately it’s way too expensive for me). Does anyone know of any Canadian professors specializing in this field (design research, ethnography, design strategy)? I heard there was someone at OCAD but I’m not sure who it is.


…you should realize that furniture and clothing designers spend more time on computers than machinery nowadays, I fully support going into research, but if your passion has been in the things themselves keep the option open.

Thanks no_spec

I am very good at keeping my options open, I have huge breadth of interests and am definately a jack of all. I’m starting to see the perils of being a generalist and am looking to narrow down my search and make some decisions!