99% Invisible | KALW

99% Invisible

99% Invisible is a tiny radio show about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world. Roman Mars is also the host, producer and program director of Public Radio Remix from PRX. 

99% Invisible: Unbuilt

Apr 24, 2015
Courtesy of The Urbanist.

On the April 24, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible:

There is an allure to unbuilt structures: the utopian, futuristic transports; the impossibly tall skyscrapers; even the horrible highways. They all capture our imagination with what could have been.

On the April 17, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible:

Cities are great. They have movement, activity and diversity. But go to any city and it’s pretty clear, a place can be diverse without really being integrated. This segregation isn’t accidental.

On the April 10, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible:

Though its official name is JFK Plaza, the open space near Philadelphia’s City Hall is more commonly known as LOVE Park, after the Robert Indiana sculpture installed there. 


On the March 27, 2-15 edition of 99% Invisible:

In the US, it’s called a line.  In Canada, it’s often referred to as a line-up.  Pretty much everywhere else, it’s known as a queue.

On the March 20, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible:

On the March 13, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible:

On the March 5, 2016 edition of 99% Invisible:

If you want to follow conversation threads relating to this show on social media—whether Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, Tumblr—you know to look for the hashtag: #99pi. In our current digital age, the hashtag identifies movements, events, happenings, brands—topics of all kinds. The “#” didn’t always have this meaning, though.  It’s had a few different lives.

On the February 27, 2015 episode of 99% Invisible:

Disruptive camouflage?  Think about zebras: it’s hypothesized that their stripes make it difficult for a predator to distinguish one from another when the zebras are in a large herd. The stripes also might make zebras less attractive to blood sucking horseflies. This is called disruptive camouflage.

When it comes to humans, the greatest, most jaw-droppingly spectacular application of disruptive camouflage was called Dazzle.

On the February 20, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible:

Right now there are fewer than two hundred active trademarks for sounds. A surprisingly small number, considering sound has the power make—or break—a brand.

Friday at 7:45am & 4:45pm and Saturday at 8:35am.

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

In 1945, Berlin was the fallen Nazi capital, carved up into two sectors—with western countries controlling the west of the city, and the Soviet Union controlling the east. West Berlin had a booming postwar economy, but life was tougher in East Berlin.  So in the decade that followed, more than 2 million people fled from east to west.  And East Germany was losing face with every East Berliner who chose to defect.

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

Americans love trophies. Giving them, receiving them, and watching other people give and receive them. This is what makes the Oscars such popular television programming, year after year.  The Oscar, as simple as it is, has been purposefully designed to be as desirable an object as possible.

Friday at 7:45am & 4:45pm and Saturday at 8:35am. 

99% Invisible: Vexillonaire

Jan 9, 2015

This episode of 99% is from Nov. 11, 2014.

Here’s a trick: if you want to design a kickass flag, start by drawing a one-by-one-and-a half inch rectangle on a piece of paper.

A design at these dimensions held 15 inches from your eye looks about the same as a three-by-five foot flag on a flagpole a hundred feet away.....

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

Vexillologists—those who study flags—tend to fall into one of two schools of thought. The first is one that focuses on history, category, and usage, and maintains that vexillologists should be scholars and historians of all flags, regardless of their designs.

The other school of vexillology, however, maintains that not all flags are created equal, and that flags can and should be redesigned, and improved.

99% Invisible: Forgotten

Jan 2, 2015

At the top of Mt. Olympus in San Francisco, on what was once thought to be the geographic center of the city, is a pedestal for a statue that isn’t there. There’s no marker.

James Davies

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

“A Chair is a difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier.” — Mies van der Rohe.

The chair presents an interesting design challenge, because it is an object that disappears when in use. The person replaces the chair. So chairs need to look fantastic when empty, and remain invisible (and comfortable) while in use.

Friday at 7:45am & 4:45pm and Saturday at 8:35am.

At the end of his life, Wallace Neff lived in a 1,000 square foot concrete bubble. And Neff believed that this simple dome was his greatest architectural achievements.

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

Near the end of World War II, architects were anticipating the post-war housing shortage. Wallace Neff was L.A.'s start architect at the time, and wanted to create a solution that would not only meet this demand, but address the need for housing worldwide.

99% Invisible: Wonder Bread

Nov 28, 2014

The first print advertisement for Wonder Bread came out before the bread itself. It stated only that “a wonder” was coming. In a lot of ways, the statement was true. Wonder Bread was the perfect loaf. “Slow food” advocates have pronounced industrial white bread of any brand a symbol of a modern grocery problem: consumers don’t know where our food comes from. The funny thing is that industrial white bread—that evenly sliced, squishy, moist, perfectly white and wondrous loaf—was once a highly designed solution to that very same problem.

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

The Ouija board is so simple and iconic that it looks like it comes from another time, or maybe another realm. The game is not as ancient as it was designed to look, but those two arched rows of letters have been spooking people for over 125 years.  To understand where Ouija boards (generically called “talking boards”) come from, you have to go back to middle of the 1800s, to three sisters in New York.

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

The “driveway moment.” It’s when a story is so good that you can’t leave your car. Inside of a driveway moment, time becomes elastic–you could be staring straight at a clock for the entire duration of the story, but for that length of time, the clock has no power over you.

But ironically,  inside the machinery of public radio–the industry that creates driveway moments–the clock rules all.

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

Straight lines might be logical, predictable, and efficient, but they are also completely “godless”—at least according to Austrian artist and designer Tausendsassa Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser (which translates to “Multi-Talented Peace-Filled Rainy Day Dark-Colored Hundred Waters” in German).

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

99% Invisible: The Port of Dallas

Oct 24, 2014

There’s a photograph we have tacked to our studio at 99% Invisible HQ. The photo, taken 1899, shows three men, all looking very fashionable, suspended mid-air on the lifted arm of a giant dredging machine.

There are plenty of images like this from this era—scenes of people standing around proudly as they shaped the earth. And in these old photos there seems to be a real sense of awe and reverence for the marvels of civil engineering.

99% Invisible: Rebar and the Alvord Lake Bridge

Oct 17, 2014

On this week's edition of 99% Invisible:

The Alvord Lake Bridge is, quite literally, the bridge to the modern world. It is one the oldest reinforced concrete structures still standing. The twisted iron bars embedded in the bridge served as the model for the all the rebar containing structures that followed. It is the ancestor to an endless number of reinforced concrete buildings, bridges, tunnels, viaducts, and foundations.

Friday at 7:35am & 4:45pm and Saturday at 8:35am.

Episode 132: Castle on the Park

Oct 10, 2014

This episode was originally aired on Sept 16, 2014.

On the southwest corner of Central Park West and 106th Street in New York City, there’s an enormous castle. It takes up the whole east end of the block, with its red brick cylindrical turrets topped with gleaming silver cones. The stained glass windows and intricate stonework make the building look like something out of a fairytale.....

From April 15, 2011.

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible . . .

99% Invisible: Holdout

Sep 26, 2014

On this week's edition of 99% Invisible:

“Holdout”  Around 2005, a Seattle neighborhood called Ballard started to see unprecedented growth.  Developers offered a woman named Edith Macefield $750,000 for her small house.  Macefield turned down the money, and developers went ahead and enveloped her house on three sides with a shopping mall.

Friday at 7:35am & 4:45pm, Saturday at 8:35am.

99percentinvisible.org

The first designed object: the Acheulean hand axe!

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