Who can afford to be critical?

An inquiry into what we can’t do alone, as designers, and into what we might be able to do together, as people


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‘Critical Designers’ produced by an increasing number of design schools are prompted to address social, political and environmental issues through their practices. Yet, who can afford to continue such effort after graduation?

In a dynamic style holding multiple voices, Who Can Afford To Be Critical? discusses the limits that affordability, class and labour impose upon the educational promise of holding a ‘critical’ practice. Why do we tend to ignore the material and socioeconomic constraints that bind us as designers, claiming instead that we can be powerful agents of change? In fact, where does our agency lie?

Instead of focusing on the dream of ethical work under capitalism, could we, instead, focus first on designers’ own working conditions, targeting them as one immediate site for collective action? And can we engage politically with the world not necessarily as designers, but as workers, as activists, as citizens?


  • Typesoftcover
  • Dimensions148 x 210 mm / 5.82 x 8.26 inches (portrait)
  • Pages92
  • ISBN978-90-832706-3-0
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Release date20221017
  • Bindingsewn/glued
  • PaperMultiboard Offsett / recycled 400 g and Perigraphica Natural Rough 90 g
  • Edition1500
  • Color4 PMs + black
  • PrinterPrinton, Talinn (Est)
  • FontGap Sans by GrandChaos9000 / Garamon(d/t) by Paul Tubert / Cinzel by Nathanael Gama / Courier New by Howard Bud Kettler / Italianno by Robert Leuschke / IM FELL Double Pica Pro by Peter de Walpergen and Igino Marini / Hershey Noailles by Allen Vincent Hershey and Luuse / EB Garamond by Claude Garamont, Georg Duffner and Octavio Pardo / Helvetica Neue by Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffman / Comic Sans by Vincent Connare / Happy Times at the IKOB by Matthias Hübner / League Gothic by Caroline Hadilaksono, Micah Rich and Tyler Finck / Arial (and Arial Narrow) by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders / Aileron by Sora Sagano / Lusitana by Ana Paula Megda / Syne by Bonjour Monde, Lucas Descroix, George Triantafyllakos / CirrusCumulus by Clara Sambot / Marker Felt by Dieter Steffmann / Combine by Julie Patard / Forum by Denis Masharov / Compagnon by Chloé Lozano, Juliette Duhé, Léa Pradine, Sébastien Riollier, Valentin Papon / Lynda by Ariel Di Lisio and Alejandro Paul / OCR-PBI by Lise Brosseau and Antoine Gelgon / Utopia by Antoine Gelgon / Almendra by Ana Sanfelippo / Cianan-ur by feorag / Snell Roundhand by Matthew Carter / Authentic Sans by Christina Janus and Desmond Wong / Impact by Geoffrey Lee / Yatra One by Catherine Leigh Schmidt / Amarante by Karolina Lach / Quattrocento by Impallari Type / Not Courier Sans by Open Source Publishing
  • Image specs25 duotone images
  • DetailsEach chapter in diffirent PMS