Ten years ago, 99% Invisible launched as a radio show and podcast. Five years later, we began to publish articles and videos as well. Some cover subjects that seemed too succinct to warrant entire episodes. Others make use of visuals to tell stories that would be challenging to do with audio alone, and were thus better suited for visual formats, like this:
Fans have written to us for years about desire paths, but a lot of their beauty and function is best understood through imagery. These paths can be literal or virtual, and can teach larger lessons about design.
This collaborative video with Vox features host Roman Mars and Don Norman, author and inspiration for the term “Norman Door,” which is (in short) any door you’re not sure whether to push or pull open.
From around the world, 99pi fans write in about peculiar and compelling regional designs, some of which are so practical and innovative that it can be hard to understand why they haven’t spread.
Another regional design, the tilt-and-turn is three windows in one and a staple of many European households. You’ll see it all the time in shows and films set across the Atlantic, but barely anywhere in the US.
Expanded on as the first subject in The 99% Invisible City book, utility markings are a classic example of something we see everywhere but often overlook — these rough scrawls represent a coded language.
The suburbanization of retail begat big-box stores, but what happens when the businesses move out? Sometimes others move in, but in other cases they become libraries, churches, or a SPAM Museum.
The work of a group of influential Postmodernists culminated in a visit to Las Vegas that reframed the discourse around buildings and got architects thinking about how we do (or don’t) use signs and symbols.
What happens when you strip a city of its colorful advertising? Aside from the obvious and immediate effects, there can be secondary consequences that range from good and bad to ugly and beautiful.
Building on themes from an old 99pi episode and a newer 99pi article, this video collaboration is a deep dive into the strange world of warning symbols, including how they work as well as how they fail over time.
A few more before we go: this clever trick called the “Dutch Reach” indeed reached a wide audience and spurred a lot of conversation around cycling and roads. Roman also infected Kurt with his fixation on the W4-2 road sign, leading to a poll and whole set of redesign ideas. Sometimes, articles lead to conversations in episodes, like this piece on abandoned and reused Sears buildings across the United States. In other cases, articles inspired stories for our book, The 99% Invisible City.
Click here for more 99pi articles on an ever-expanding array of topics!