Podcasts We Love: 99% Invisible

by Simona Terron
In part 8 of our series on Podcasts We Love, we bring you 99% Invisible

What is 99% Invisible?
99% Invisible is a short radio show about design and architecture whose host and creator is Roman Mars. With over 70 million downloads, this podcast is one of the most popular in the world. Fast Company, the progressive business media brand that focuses on innovation in technology, among other things, named Roman one of the 100 Most Creative People in 2013. A TED main stage speaker in 2015, Roman’s crowd funding campaigns have raised over $1.16 million, making him the highest-funded journalist in Kickstarter history.

99% Invisible takes you to interesting topics and explores them in interesting ways. It's a show about design. They talk about the design of not just the look of things, but also the function, impact, and more.

Why We Love This Podcast
Besides it being a professionally produced program (not discussion style), the show has evidently been crafted with a ton of work, with fascinating interviews and production values that reflect the heart and soul that goes into the project.

Most episodes are on obscure and fascinating, and sometimes even weird topics, such as the hidden staircases-to-nowhere throughout California, or the story behind the “I <3 New York” slogan. Roman and his team of reporters and producers have done an excellent job of talking about architecture and design the way it deserves it be spoken of. They examine not only design, but also the people who designed things, examining the ways in which the life experiences of each designer informs the way they see and construct the world around them.

Three of our fave episodes from this podcast:
  1. Episode 200: Miss Manhattan on February 16, 2016
    All around the country, there stands a figure who is so much a part of historical architecture and urban landscapes that she is rarely noticed. She has gone by many names, from Star Maiden to Priestess of Culture, Spirit of Life to Mourning Victory. Now nearly forgotten, Audrey Munson was once the most famous artist's model in the United States. In and beyond her time, she has represented many things, including truth, memory, seasons, the stars, and even the universe itself. Immortalized in iron, marble and gold, Audrey remains perched on high, quietly watching over cities from coast to coast.
  2. Episode 177: Lawn Order on August 18, 2015
    In communities across America, lawns that are brown or overgrown are considered especially heinous. Elite squads of dedicated individuals have been deputized by their local governments or homeowners’ associations to take action against those whose lawns fail to meet community standards. Call them—lawn enforcement agents. There’s a paradox to the lawn. On the one hand, it is the pedestal on which sits the greatest symbol of the American Dream, the home, which people can ostensibly govern however they wish. And yet—homeowners often have almost no control over how they should maintain their lawn. Grass may be a plant, but a lawn is a designed object.
  3. Episode 186: War and Pizza on October 27, 2015
    Households tend to take pantry food for granted, but canned beans, powdered cheese, and bags of moist cookies were not designed for everyday convenience. These standard products were made to meet the needs of the military. Reporter Tina Antolini, host of the podcast Gravy, tells the story.
If you like what you just read and heard, we have more! Here's a complete list of All The Podcasts We Love, Right In One Place.

Image: romanmars.com

Interested in discovering more podcasts? Check out Ted's Radio Hour or Krista Tippett’s On Being
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