Spanning a fifty-year period, these writings exhibit much of the variety of form and scale found in Serge Chermayeff's designs, which range from city plans or the total environment to the individual house, from a seashore park to an item of furniture. Chermayeff's generation brought forth a number of outstanding innovators in design, architecture, and planning, but standing apart from most of his contemporaries, Chermayeff has also produced a body of writing that equals and complements his work in design.
The forty essays, articles, and lectures are grouped under three general headings: Pathology of Environment; The Professional Condition; and Education for Design. They reveal Chermayeff at the height of his intensity. Throughout his life he has been at the center of the kind of controversy that resolves itself into a higher level of understanding, a new direction of endeavor. Many of these concerns are addressed here; for example, Chermayeff's fear that modernism was deteriorating into just another "style" rather than serving as a means for resolving social and environmental conflicts. The book as a whole preserves the creative tension and tone of Chermayeff's career by presenting his views on particular issues as he saw them at specific moments, conveying the passion and immediacy of the original occasion. One of the notable teachers of his generation, Chermayeff was also a critic and reformer of the educational process. Like the best of that breed, he teaches even as he entertains or muses aloud, and he continues to do so throughout this book.