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.

314- Interrobang July 10, 2018

In the spring of 1962, an ad man named Martin Speckter was thinking about advertising when he realized something: many ads asked questions, but not just any questions -- excited and exclamatory questions -- a trend not unique to his time. Got milk?! Where's the beef?! Can you hear me now?! So he asked himself: could there be a mark that made it clear (visually on a page) that something is both a question and an exclamation?! Speckter was also the editor of the typography magazine *TYPEtalks, *so in March of 1962, in an article for the magazine titled “Making ...


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Older Episodes

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.
305- The Laff Box May 1, 2018
For nearly five decades, the laugh track was ubiquitous on television sitcoms, but in the early 2000s, it began to disappear. What happened?
The Gander Airport in Newfoundland was once the easternmost airfield in North America, so when transatlantic air travel was new and difficult, Gander played in critical role in getting people back and forth from Europe to America.
303- The Hair Chart April 17, 2018
Andre Walker became famous for being Oprah Winfrey’s hair stylist, but he is also known for something else: a system that he created back in the 1990s to market his line of hair care products. The system categorizes natural hair types, and it's often referred to simply as "the hair ...
To this day, architects tend to turn their noses up at Las Vegas, or simply dismiss it as irrelevant to serious design theory.
301- Making it Rain April 3, 2018
The battlefield has always been at the mercy of the climate, but there was a time in U.S. military history when we did more than just pray for advantageous weather. We tried to create it.
They are hulking, but graceful -- human-made whales that float in the air. For over a century, lighter-than-air vehicles have captured the public imagination, playing a recurring role in our dreams of alternate realities and futures that might have been.
299- Gerrymandering March 21, 2018
The way we draw our political districts has a huge effect on U.S. politics, but the process is also greatly misunderstood. Gerrymandering has become a scapegoat for what’s wrong with the polarized American political system, blamed for marginalizing groups and rigging elections, but there’s no simple, one-size-fits-all design solution for ...
200- Miss Manhattan Redux March 14, 2018
All around the country, there stands a figure so much a part of historical architecture and urban landscapes that she is rarely noticed.
298- Fordlandia March 7, 2018
In the late 1920s, the Ford Motor Company bought up millions of acres of land in Brazil. They loaded boats with machinery and supplies, and shipped them deep into the Amazon rainforest. Workers cut down trees and cleared the land and then they built a rubber plantation in the middle ...