Design is fundamentally a social activity; through a series of projects that examined groups of designers engaged in real design activity, a model of design communications as the mutual building a shared understanding leads us to a different approach in which computing is used not in service of the individual, but of the group and as part of a larger fabric of communications technologies. These projects have resulted in a collection of prototype electronic design environments called "Media Spaces". Media Spaces are made of audio, video and computing systems that connect designers across time and space. The case studies and the development, refinement, and extension of Media Spaces are tightly coupled. The analysis of these studies yields insights into the nature of communications and documentation in design. The cycle is completed with the development of new systems that integrate computing into design, embodying the principles uncovered in the analysis.