99% Invisible

by Roman Mars (roman@prx.org) · · · · 301 subscribers

Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars. Learn more at 99percentinvisible.org. A proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.

The Sear & Roebuck Mail Order Catalog was nearly omnipresent in early twentieth century American life. By 1908, one fifth of Americans were subscribers. At its peak, the Sears catalog offered over 100,000 items on 1,400 pages. It weighed four pounds. The Sears catalog tells the tale of a world -- itemized. And starting in 1908, the company that offered America everything began offering what just might be its most audacious product line ever: houses. The House that Came in the Mail


Tags: urban, arts, sanfrancisco, radiotopia, publicradio, design, architecture, prx, radiolab, npr, english, talk, educational, cerebral, stories, fav, in, makeuseof

Older Episodes

322- The First Straw Sept. 5, 2018
A straw is a simple thing. It’s a tube, a conveyance mechanism for liquid. The defining characteristic of the straw is the emptiness inside it. This is the stuff of tragedy, and America.
321- Double Standards Aug. 29, 2018
Blepharoplasty is often done to lift loose or sagging skin around the upper eyelids caused by aging. But for a lot of people of Asian descent, this surgery is not strictly about aging and more commonly referred to as “double eyelid” surgery.
320- Bundyville Aug. 21, 2018
The first episode in a fascinating series about the fight over federal land in the western US and the family at the center of it.
319- It's Chinatown Aug. 14, 2018
For Americans, the sight of pagoda roofs and dragon gates means that you are in Chinatown. Whether in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, or Las Vegas, the chinoiserie look is distinctive. But for people from China, the Chinatown aesthetic can feel surprisingly foreign. The same goes for fortune cookies.
318- Fire and Rain Aug. 8, 2018
For Montecito, California, fire is predictable and it is inevitable. Now, coupled with multi-year drought, it is becoming unmanageable.
317- Built to Burn Aug. 1, 2018
After the massive Panorama Fire in southern California in 1980, a young fire researcher named Jack Cohen went in to investigate the houses that were destroyed and he found something surprising
Four times every day, on radios all across the British Isles, a BBC announcer begins reading from a seemingly indecipherable script. "And now the Shipping Forecast..."
315- Everything is Alive July 18, 2018
Everything is Alive is an unscripted interview show with host Ian Chillag in which all the subjects are inanimate objects. In each episode, a different thing tells us its life story -- and everything it says is true.
314- Interrobang July 10, 2018
In 1962, an ad man decided that excited and exclamatory questions needed their own end punctuation: the iterrobang
Roman Mars on ZigZag July 5, 2018
A special presentation of Radiotopia's newest show ZigZag
The world is full of icons that warn us to be afraid — to stay away from this or not do that. And many of these are easy to understand because they represent something recognizable, like a fire, or a person slipping on a wet floor. But some concepts are ...
313- Right to Roam June 27, 2018
In the United Kingdom, the freedom to walk through private land is known as “the right to roam.” The movement to win this right was started in the 1930s by a rebellious group of young people who called themselves “ramblers” and spent their days working in the factories of Manchester, ...
312- Post-Narco Urbanism June 20, 2018
In the 1980s, Pablo Escobar, the notorious drug lord, had effectively declared war on the Colombian state. The bloodshed was focused in the city of Medellin. As the years went on, Medellin became the most dangerous city in the world. But today, Medellin is very different.
311- The Barney Design June 13, 2018
Until the early 90s, basketball uniforms were pretty tame. There had been real limits to what could be done with jerseys. All the details—the numbers, the names, the logos—had to be sewed on. Complicated graphics would have taken a massive amount of embroidery, which would have added additional weight and ...
310- 77 Steps June 6, 2018
As the U.S. war effort ramped up in the early 1940s, the Navy put out a request for chair design submissions. They needed a chair that was fireproof, waterproof, lightweight and strong enough to survive a torpedo blast. In response, engineer named Wilton C. Dinges designed a chair made out ...
309- The Vault May 30, 2018
Svalbard is a remote Norwegian archipelago that's the home to a vault containing seeds for virtually every edible plant one can imagine.
308- Curb Cuts May 23, 2018
If you live in an American city and you don’t personally use a wheelchair, it's easy to overlook the small ramp at most intersections, between the sidewalk and the street. Today, these curb cuts are everywhere.
307- Immobile Homes May 16, 2018
About a third of mobile homeowners live in parks where they rent a plot of land for their home. This arrangement is filled with uncertainty.
When a doctor reveals a terminal diagnosis to a patient -- that process is as delicate a procedure as any surgery, with potentially serious consequences if things go wrong.