Alyssa just told me of a conversation she had with a client, the punchline of which ends: "Well. We never really knew what we were getting. We just trusted Matt. We figured most everyone would just show up and start building stuff. But Matt came in with all these drawings and stuff. But we can't really visualize things like that, so we just let him have at it and now we're just starting to see it for the first time."
Alyssa tells this story; its narrative is the great trust the client had in our work. But. This isn't how it is supposed to be.
The design process, what I call "The Design Study," is not meant to just allow the designer to design. Yes. Sketching, drawing, scaling, and conceptualizing things on paper is how a designer designs. But, the drawing work is also needed so we - the client and I - have something to budget from; to scale; "How many square foot of paving is to be done?" What is the volume of soil to be excavated and hauled away? How much lawn will there be? In the design study we can answer these questions. It takes the guess work out of production. But further, design documents, sketches, and drawings are documents that represent what is to happen on the project, what is to be built. As much as any written proposal, a scaled drawing "says" what we agree we are building. And most importantly, the design study and process is creating a situation for dialogue with the client - design makes a representation, or tries to bridge the space from imagination to real constructed object; it brings half form to what is concept, theory, and imagination. Design communicates. A designer isn't (or shouldn't be) designing for themselves - they design for the client. Yes, some clients just "want it taken care of" and choose to be minimally engaged - but the process is there to involve them.
I always say, "It is my work as a designer to understand the clients imaginations, needs, desires, and wishes, and to bring them form, bring them into being, guiding them with some basic elementaries of design, visual, and spacial language."