Commercial interest in nonlinear optical (NLO) materials is driven by the development of fiber optics, laser diodes, and high speed computing. In communications, as well as in information processing, the direction of future technology points unmistakably towards optical systems. Active materials for optical modulation, routing, and amplification are in high demand for this technology. Currently available materials for NLO applications lack many of the critical requirements for true industrial implementation. Therefore, significant programs for the development of improved NLO materials have blossomed throughout the world. Organics have been suggested as improved materials for a variety of applications ranging from conducting polymers to superconductors. For NLO applications, there is a solid foundation of basic science which clearly defines intrinsic advantages of these materials in comparison to those which are currently in use. In addition to basic material constants, organics offer the opportunity to apply molecular level science to engineer materials through application of several principles of design. In this paper, these design concepts will be highlighted in an attempt to define an industrial approach to this materials problem.