99% Details

It’s a stick with bristles poking out of it. It doesn’t even qualify as a simple machine, but the careful thought and design that went into the creation of the modern, angled bristle, fat handled toothbrush shows just how much brainpower goes into something that is designed to simply work well and not be noticed all that much (until it’s time to buy the next one).

This piece features John Edson, President of LUNAR. Full disclosure: LUNAR underwrites 99% Invisible, but they don’t and never have even attempted to exercise any editorial control over the program. Seriously. They don’t even know what’s on week to week (well, this week I told John he was on, but that just seems polite).

We convened a meeting of architects and designers at the AIA-SF way back in May to brainstorm possible themes and titles for the program, and I expressed a desire to do one episode about a seemingly simple product that required a great deal of complex thought to design, and John Edson mentioned the toothbrush story. Like any good story, I couldn’t shake it, and pestered him for an interview. John Edson hasn’t even heard the piece before I post this right now. I feel comfortable with that. I hope you do too.

Comments (2)


  1. Craig PI Lane

    Apologies. This comment is not specific to this episode. My comment only appears here because I’m trying to listen to this one, but haven’t been able to yet.

    Most likely you’ve heard similar issues from others, but I wanted to let you know that it’s practically impossible to navigate your site on an iphone. The site reloads every second or two. I’ve checked my cookies and privacy settings to see if there’s something on my side causing problems, but haven’t found anything.

    My work-around is to search through episodes on my desktop, then email myself a link that I open on my phone. When I open the link on my phone I have to quickly tap the download button before the reload begins (usually takes a couple of attempts). If I try to stream, the episode keeps jumping back to the start of the episode.

    Although it’s a pain in the butt, it’s worth it because your episodes are soooo worth it. Thank you for putting together these stories.


    1. 99pi

      Should be fixed now – please let us know again (99percentinvisible.org/contact) if you see this issue again!

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