'99% Invisible' Uncovers the Hidden World of Design

Originally published in the East Bay Express, 2012 Roman Mars' radio show and podcast is changing the way we look at design — and maybe the nature of public radio.

By Tate Williams

When people think of design, they usually conjure images of prominent, beautiful objects, like a sleek modern building or a stylish piece of furniture. But there's another world of design, one we rarely notice, that quietly orchestrates our lives — the paths we walk, our moods, our interactions.

That secret world is the terrain of 99% Invisible, a four-and-a-half-minute-long KALW radio show and podcast that local producer Roman Mars creates at night from his home in the East Bay, and has become something of a national hit. In its sixty-plus episodes, the show has uncovered the hidden world of design, revealing such stories as the murderous history of dentures, the faults and virtues of the cul de sac, and the free-jazz of deteriorating escalators.

Read More