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99% Invisible

A weekly Arts and Design podcast featuring Roman Mars and Avery Trufelman
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Episodes of 99% Invisible

In much of the western world, alphabetical order is simply a default we take for granted. It’s often the one we try first -- or the one we use as a last resort when all the other ordering methods fail. It’s boring, but it works, and it’s so ing
The French bulldog is now the second most popular breed in America. Their cute features, portable size, and physical features make for a dog that can easily travel and doesn't require a lot of exercise. But these characteristics sometimes have
Fitness trends come and go. But the simple weight is an anchor in the shifting tides of culture. As workout equipment has become canonized within the realm of home appliances, this heavy metal object aids in our dual — and sometimes conflicting
Even if we think of the camera as a neutral technology, it is not. In the vast spectrum of human colors, photographic tools and practices tend to prioritize the lighter end of that range. One example of this bias was Kodak's Shirley Card, a ref
Born in 1872, American architect and engineer Julia Morgan designed hundreds of buildings over her prolific career, famous for her work on incredible structures like the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California.She was also the first woman to be
At a glance, the border between the United States and Canada would seem to be at the friendlier end of the international boundary spectrum. But even though the US-Canada border is now pretty tame, when two countries touch each other over a stre
Margarine is yellow, like butter, but it hasn't always been. At times and in places, it has been a bland white, or even a dull pink. These strange variations were a byproduct of 150-year war to destroy margarine, and everything that it stands f
Rioters carried many familiar flags during the January 6th insurrection at the United States Capitol -- Confederate, MAGA, as well as some custom-made ones like a flag of Trump looking like Rambo. Except for onlookers who were already familiar
The Sears & Roebuck Mail Order Catalog was nearly omnipresent in early 20th century American life. By 1908, one fifth of Americans were subscribers. Anyone anywhere in the country could order a copy for free, look through it, and then have anyt
When it comes to English spelling and pronunciation, there is plenty of rhyme and very little reason. But what is the reason for that? Why among all European languages is English so uniquely chaotic today?To help us answer that question, we spo
Presidential libraries are tributes to greatness, "[a] self-congratulatory, almost fictional account of someone's achievements, where all the blemishes are hidden," explains one New York architect.  But they're also a "weird mix of a historical
The great Jacob Goldstein, author of Money: The True Story of a Made Up Thing, stops by to tell us two stories about the design of paper currency around the world. First, the story of the making of the Euro banknotes, the design of which was su
Axolotls are nature’s great regenerators. They are able to grow back not just their tails, but also legs, arms, even parts of vital organs, including their hearts. This remarkable ability is one of several traits that turned the axolotl into a
In 2015 the world was divided into two warring factions overnight. And at the center of this schism was a single photograph. Cecilia Bleasdale took a picture of a dress that she planned to wear to her daughter's wedding and that photo went beyo
What does water mean to you? In this feature, author Bonnie Tsui (Why We Swim), actress Joy Bryant, submarine pilot Erika Bergman, figure skater Elladj Baldé, 85-year-old synchronized swimmer Barbara Eison-White, professional mermaid Olivia Gon
When Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt were promoting The 99% Invisible City in late 2020, one question came up over and over again in conversations and interviews about our built environment: in what ways will the COVID pandemic change cities long
Officially titled The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food, it was often known simply as “Kniga” (translated: "book") because it was one of the only cookbooks to exist in the Soviet Union. The volume is peppered with glossy photographs of really lavi
Britt Young is a geographer and tech writer based in the Bay Area. She also has what's called a "congenital upper limb deficiency." In other words, she was born without the part of her arm just below her left elbow. She's used different sorts o
Hanko, sometimes called insho, are the carved stamp seals that people in Japan often use in place of signatures. Hanko seals are made from materials ranging from plastic to jade and are about the size of a tube of lipstick. The end of each hank
Throughout its reign, the British Empire stole a lot of stuff. Today those objects are housed in genteel institutions across the UK and the world. They usually come with polite plaques. The ABC podcast Stuff the British Stole is a six episode s
Every year, fights break out on airplanes. They happen between the people who lean back in their seats, and the people who get their knees smooshed. Sometimes planes have to be grounded because of these arguments. If you think about it, these a
We revisit Katie Mingle's Right to Roam episode as we say goodbyeIn 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 y
After Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd last year, tens of thousands of people all over the world took to the streets to protest police violence against Black people. And if you look at images from these marches, yo
Correction: Our staff producer pronounced the the Japanese word "ōbōn" incorrectly in this episode. It is pronounced OH-bohn not oh-BAHN.Let us be the first to wish you a Happy Flag Day, beautiful nerds!  Anyone who has listened to 99% Invisibl
After Producer Katie Mingle's mom wrote a romance novel, Katie set out to understand the romance genre and its classic covers. There was a lot to unpack. The Clinch
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