Design is a necessity, not something merely desirable if it can be afforded after material costs are covered. Design is a process that permeates every aspect and phase of man's works, not a last-step polishing of the surface. This has at last been recognized at nearly every level of modern society, including now the federal level:
Design Necessity was prepared for presentation to the First Federal Design Assembly, sponsored by the National Endowment on the Arts and the Federal Council on the Arts & Humanities, and scheduled to convene in Washington in April 1973 under the aegis of the Presidential presence. The coauthors of this book are two of America's best-known writers on the design process, and they are themselves active designers. In their role as program cochairmen of the Assembly, they focus its scope and goals as follows: "The Assembly will examine the necessity of design in visual communications, in architecture, in interiors, and in environmental planning. It will consider design as an instrument of organization, a medium for persuasion, a means of relating objects to people, a method for improving safety and efficiency, and a way of coping with the complexity of contemporary Federal agency assignments. "The Assembly's emphasis, in other words, is on design performance in response to human needs. "Moreover, the emphasis is on demonstrable design performance.... "The aim of the First Federal Design Assembly is to present a clear and compelling view of design as a process. For in Government today that process is crucial." The book documents these assertions: there are sound, proven criteria for judging design effectiveness; design is an urgent requirement, not a cosmetic addition; design can save money; it can save time; it enhances communication; it simplifies use, simplifies manufacture, simplifies maintenance; the design necessity is recognizably present in projects ranging in scale and complexity from a postage stamp to a highway system; the absence of design is a hazardous kind of design (not to design is to suffer the costly consequences of design by default); on any given project, designers and government officials have the same basic goal—performance; and effective design of public services is itself an essential public service. Criteria for the design necessity are illustrated in the book by case studies of federal projects that work because they were designed to work. These case studies deal with significant aspects of design not visible on the surface and explain how problems were solved.