Roman Mars

Host and Producer, 99% Invisible

Roman Mars is host and producer of KALW’s 99% Invisible, a short radio show about design and architecture.  The 99% Invisible podcast recently peaked at #8 in the iTunes rankings for all podcasts, as well as #1 in both the Arts and Design categories.  He is also the host, producer and program director of Public Radio Remix from PRX, a 24-hour, experimental public radio story stream broadcast on XM 123 and public radio stations across the country.  He was a founding producer at PRX/NPR’s Snap Judgment and Senior Producer at the Third Coast International Audio Festival.

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99% Invisible: Heyoon

Jun 19, 2015
Illustration by Emile Holmewood.

On the June 19, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible:

Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Alex Goldman was a misfit. Bored and disaffected and angry, he longed for a place to escape to. And then he found Heyoon.

99% Invisible: Details

May 22, 2015

On the May 22, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible:

It’s a stick with bristles poking out of it.

99% Invisible: 99% 180

May 8, 2015

On the May 7, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible:

In the beginning, former AIA-SF president Henrik Bull and the Transamerica Pyramid did not get along.

Joel Werner

On the May 1, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible:

When it was built in 1977, Citicorp Center (later renamed Citigroup Center, now called 601 Lexington) was, at 59 stories, the seventh-tallest building in the world.

99% Invisible: Unbuilt

Apr 24, 2015
Courtesy of The Urbanist.

On the April 24, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible:

There is an allure to unbuilt structures: the utopian, futuristic transports; the impossibly tall skyscrapers; even the horrible highways. They all capture our imagination with what could have been.

99% Invisible: Palm Reading

Apr 22, 2015

 

On a Friday evening in the summer of 2011, Los Angeles resident Brent Green was driving home from work and took a route he doesn’t usually take to get to his neighborhood. As he neared his home, he saw a work crew of about 25 guys in orange uniforms doing landscaping in a freeway berm.

He thought it all seemed a little odd.

For starters, it was 7pm on a Friday—late in the day for a city work crew. It was also piece of land that never got much attention; most of it was scrubby overgrowth. To Brent, this meant one thing.

They were stealing trees!

On the April 17, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible:

Cities are great. They have movement, activity and diversity. But go to any city and it’s pretty clear, a place can be diverse without really being integrated. This segregation isn’t accidental.


On the March 27, 2-15 edition of 99% Invisible:

In the US, it’s called a line.  In Canada, it’s often referred to as a line-up.  Pretty much everywhere else, it’s known as a queue.

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

Americans love trophies. Giving them, receiving them, and watching other people give and receive them. This is what makes the Oscars such popular television programming, year after year.  The Oscar, as simple as it is, has been purposefully designed to be as desirable an object as possible.

Friday at 7:45am & 4:45pm and Saturday at 8:35am. 

99% Invisible: Cover Story

Jan 23, 2015

Episode 101: Cover Story

99% Invisible: Vexillonaire

Jan 9, 2015

This episode of 99% is from Nov. 11, 2014.

Here’s a trick: if you want to design a kickass flag, start by drawing a one-by-one-and-a half inch rectangle on a piece of paper.

A design at these dimensions held 15 inches from your eye looks about the same as a three-by-five foot flag on a flagpole a hundred feet away.....

Episode 132: Castle on the Park

Oct 10, 2014

This episode was originally aired on Sept 16, 2014.

On the southwest corner of Central Park West and 106th Street in New York City, there’s an enormous castle. It takes up the whole east end of the block, with its red brick cylindrical turrets topped with gleaming silver cones. The stained glass windows and intricate stonework make the building look like something out of a fairytale.....

From April 15, 2011.

99percentinvisible.org

The first designed object: the Acheulean hand axe!

US paper currency is so ubiquitous that to really look at its graphic design with fresh eyes requires some deliberate and focused attention. So pull out a greenback from your wallet (or look at a picture online) and really take it in. All the fonts, the busy filigree, the micro patterns…it’s just dreadful.

99% Invisible

When you think of suspension bridges, the first two that come to mind may be right here: the Bay Bridge, and the Golden Gate Bridge. But after this next story, there's another that may stay with you -- a suspension bridge in the state of Washington called the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Roman Mars relates this bridge in this edition of 99% Invisible.

Emile Holmewood

One day, when Melissa was thirteen, she and her friend Liz bought some geodes. They didn’t want to wait to get home to crack them open, so they decided to throw them against the wall of an apartment building. Liz’s aim went wild on one of the geodes, and it went through a window. Melissa would have probably forgotten about the incident, had it not been for one inexplicable thing: the window didn’t get fixed. Ever. So in 2011, 22 years after the incident, Melissa went to go find the person who left the window broken for so long. She brought along a tape recorder. 

If you’re not from California, or missed this bit of news, the University of California has a new logo – or, rather, had a new logo. To be more precise they had a new “visual identity system,” which is the kind of entirely accurate but completely wonky description that gets met with sarcastic eye rolls from anyone who isn’t a designer, but there it is. But they don’t have a new logo anymore. Because of a massive public backlash, the UC system actually suspended the monogram while we were reporting this story.

Flickr user gorbould

Last night, the Golden State Warriors beat the Denver Nuggets 131 to 117 in what USA Today called “one of the most entertaining blowouts in recent memory.” The high-scoring affair reflects the modern game. But scores that high would have been unfathomable back in the early days of the NBA. That is, until professional basketball was redesigned.

wasabicube

If you look at the outer hull of commercial ships, you might find a painted circle bisected with a long horizontal line. This marking is called the load line, or as I prefer, the Plimsoll line. This simple graphic design has saved thousands of lives. The Plimsoll line shows the maximum loading point of the ship and lets a third party know, plainly and clearly, when a vessel is overloaded and at risk of sinking in rough seas. If you see that horizontal line above the water, you’re good, if you don’t, you could be sunk.

Courtesy of 99percentinvible.com and http://www.gensler.com/#viewpoint/features/49

When Roman Mars spoke with Allison Arieff about the design of airports she said, if all airports simply played Brian Eno’s album Music for Airports over the speakers, every airport would be better. 

Greg Girard

In 1898, China granted a 99-year lease to Great Britain for the areas across the harbor in the British controlled island of Hong Kong. But smack in the middle of that territory, known as Kowloon, was an enclave that wasn't included in the lease. A place that would, at least officially, still be controlled by the Chinese. It was a large fort, built decades earlier to put a check on British expansion. But it evolved into something very, very different. 

Under CC license from Flickr user Nate Steiner.

California voters may have paved the way for a cleaner future when they passed Proposition 39, but they’re still famous for the gas-burning way they get around. California commuters often drive the same route, sometimes so frequently they might think they can navigate it blindfolded. 

The Bay Area is home to some of the smartest people on the planet. So, it makes sense that our brainy nature would demand the occasional brainy entertainment. That's where Brian Malow, the science comedian, comes in.  Malow spoke with Roman Mars, host of the radio design show 99 Percent Invisible. His latest CD is called Rational Comedy for an Irrational Planet.

Listen to the full story above.

courtesy of 99percentinvisible.org/

Stamps design takes, on average, a year to a year and a half, from conception to execution. Unfortunately, most of the stamps we encounter on a day-to-day basis are the rather predictable flag, bell, and love stamps, but there are some really fantastic commemorative stamps, which are supremely functional and affordable tiny works of art.

http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1128/593617770_18cdbe7d31_z.jpg?zz=1

Ever since the industrial revolution, when it became possible for products to be designed just once and then mass produced, it has been the slight imperfections and wear introduced by human use that has transformed a quality mass produced product into a thing we love. Your worn blue jeans, your grandmothers iron skillet, the initial design determined their quality, but it’s their imperfections that make them comfortable, that make them lovable, that make them yours.

Composting is just one way we’re thinking about reducing waste, and when it works, we notice: landfills slim down, and gardens bulk up. But then there’s the waste that doesn’t take up space, like energy.