On the August 14, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible.

Tom Levy

Architecture has the power to transform. A building can make us feel joy, or sadness, powerful or weak. Nowhere is this more true than in a church, a chapel, synagogue, Buddhist temple, or a mosque. For centuries, religion has sparked the design of some of the world’s most beautiful buildings. But what is that process? What built elements make a space sacred?

Architect Susie Coliver says experiencing the design of a sacred space begins way before you step foot in a building.

On the July 10, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible.

On the July 3, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible.

On the June 12, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible.

On the June 5, 2015 edition of 99% Invisible.

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.

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

Vexillologists—those who study flags—tend to fall into one of two schools of thought. The first is one that focuses on history, category, and usage, and maintains that vexillologists should be scholars and historians of all flags, regardless of their designs.

The other school of vexillology, however, maintains that not all flags are created equal, and that flags can and should be redesigned, and improved.

James Davies

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

“A Chair is a difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier.” — Mies van der Rohe.

The chair presents an interesting design challenge, because it is an object that disappears when in use. The person replaces the chair. So chairs need to look fantastic when empty, and remain invisible (and comfortable) while in use.

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

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

Winning an early pinball game was much more about luck than skill, since there were no buttons to activate flippers on the sides. You basically had one action: pull the plunger and watch the ball go. Without the flippers, pinball was a truly a game of chance—perfect for gambling.

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

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

Straight lines might be logical, predictable, and efficient, but they are also completely “godless”—at least according to Austrian artist and designer Tausendsassa Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser (which translates to “Multi-Talented Peace-Filled Rainy Day Dark-Colored Hundred Waters” in German).

On this week's episode of 99% Invisible:

On this week's edition of 99% Invisible:

IKEA hacking is the practice of buying things from IKEA and reengineering -- or "hacking" -- them to become customized, more functional, and often just better-designed stuff. 

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

Glen Weldon, author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography (and panelist of the great Pop Culture Happy Hour) talks us through the iconography of our first superhero and why Supes has managed to stay relevant for 75 years.

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.

Check out's new feature on Roman Mars and 99% Invisible, the tiny show about design that started at KALW, has since had more than 2 million downloads on iTunes, and is currently in the midst of a hugely successful Kickstarter fundraising campaign.

courtesy of

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.

California's outer coast once boasted 27 miles of Bay Area beaches. Up until the 20th Century, these beaches provided a natural buffer for the inner land areas; then came freeways, airports and downtowns. KALW's Ben Trefny spoke with Robin M. Grossinger, Senior Scientist and Historical Ecology Program Director at the San Francisco Estuary Institute about California beaches, landscape heritage and how some of these areas have rebuilt themselves.