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Another review for Noah Scalin and Michelle Taute’s Design Activist’s Handbook

Another review for Noah Scalin and Michelle Taute’s Design Activist’s Handbook

A while back, Noah asked if anyone from Osocio would review The Design Activist’s Handbook. Both Marc and I wrote a review, and Marc posted his first. That explains why there are two reviews of the book on Osocio. If you’d like your book reviewed, please get in touch.

Review of The Design Activist’s Handbook by Noah Scalin & Michelle Taute

This is an excellent book.

I wish I had a few copies on my shelf. I’d hand them out to all the young creatives and design students I meet, when they ask me the questions that all designers with a conscience ask sooner or later:

How did I end up here?
How do I change it?
What choices do I have?
Are there other ways of being a designer?
And above all,
How do I make a living without compromising my values?


This book frames those questions for people who haven’t yet found the ways to ask them. And it provides its readers with ways to answer them. Different ways to think about a career in creativity or design. New models of design business. Ways to find partners, funders, clients and projects that chime with your view of the world.

Both inspiring and practical, it also contains interviews and features with practitioners in conscientious design. People who are, as The Design Activist’s Handbook has it, already both ‘making a difference’ and ‘making a living’. My one minor complaint might be that it could benefit from more global examples – they are all from the US, though to be fair this book is aimed at a US audience.

What it’s not is a conscientious design or design ideas sourcebook. For that, I’d recommend Goodvertising or, you know, the internet (this blog is a good place to start). The design examples it does show are primarily useful because they tell stories about how work was commissioned and created. How it came to be, which, if you’re a conscientious designer, is just as important as what it is.

It will probably put into words what many designers already feel. It will, I hope, inspire a new generation of people to put their talent and creativity into shifting the world on its axis rather than just shifting product. In its pages may be the future creative department of The Good Agency and the next generation of Osocio bloggers. For that alone, we should be thankful.

If you’re a designer or creative, and you want a book that helps you both ask and answer the questions that really matter, buy this one.

Reuben Turner
Creative director
The Good Agency

I’m creative partner of the UK’s GOOD Agency. We build belief in brands, businesses and causes, because people do more with brands they believe in. Read more.