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Through the Motions: Japanese Rail Workers Point & Call to Promote Safety [ARTICLE]


Watching Japanese train conductors (and other railway staff) point all over the place as they perform their duties is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Modern Hieroglyphics: Binary Logic Behind the Universal “Power Symbol” [ARTICLE]


High beams, lower battery, on, off, play, pause, risk of electric shock and fragile: handle with care — what do these all have in common?

Learning from Carbuncle: Charting 56 “Ugliest Building” Winners & Nominees [ARTICLE]


Every year since 2006, the magazine Building Design has honored one special UK building with the architectural equivalent of a Razzy Award: the Carbuncle Cup.

Sounds Natural [EPISODE]


In 1999, a nature documentary called Wolves came out in IMAX theaters. The film was designed to combat the misinformation campaigns of the ranching and hunting lobbies, which portrayed wolves as vicious killers.

Ghost Lanes: Angled “Scarchitecture” Reveals Historic Urban Roads & Railways [ARTICLE]


As cities evolve, architecture often fills in abandoned routes designed for cars and trains. Still, the remnants of old voids can persist in the shapes of new structures.

[EPISODE] The Architect of Hollywood


Los Angeles is rich with architectural diversity. On the same block, you could find a retro-futuristic Googie diner next to a Spanish-style mansion, sitting comfortably alongside a Dutch Colonial dwelling, all in close proximity to a Deconstructivist concert hall.

[ARTICLE] Behind the Screens: Windshield-Clearing Designs from Wipers to Spin Windows


In the biographical feature film Flash of Genius, we follow the story of engineering professor Robert Kearns (spoilers ahead).

[ARTICLE] Kotatsu Tables: Cozy Mobile Hearths Solve Space Heating in Japanese Homes


Perfect for those cold winter days when getting out of bed seems like a chore, kotatsu tables let you get up and socialize while staying cozy and warm.

[EPISODE] Containers: The Ships, the Tugs and the Port


Huge container-moving cranes dot the waterfronts of San Francisco and Oakland while hulking container ships dominate the waterways of the Bay Area.

[ARTICLE] Guerrilla Drive-Ins: Mobile Urban Movie Theaters Animate Disused Spaces


Drive-in theaters have come a long way since the outdoor Theatre de Guadalupe in New Mexico first welcomed cars to join seated crowds at screenings in 1915.

[ARTICLE] Squaring the Circle: Seventen Telephone Keypad Layouts that Could Have Been


It might seem obvious or even inevitable that numbers on a telephone would be laid out from left to right and top to bottom in a gird.

[EPISODE] Manzanar


When Warren Furutani was growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950s, he sometimes heard his parents refer to a place where they once spent time — a place they called “camp.” To him “camp” meant summer camp or a YMCA camp, but this was something different.

[ARTICLE] Agricultural Futures: From Home Aeroponic Gardens to Vertical Urban Farms


Located in an abandoned 70,000-square-foot factory in Newark, New Jersey, the world’s largest vertical farm aims to produce 2,000,000 pounds of food per year.

Finnish the Dishes: Simple Nordic Design Beats Dishwashers & Drying Racks


In the 1940s, inventor Maiju Gebhard calculated that the average household spent almost 30,000 hours washing and drying dishes over the course of a lifetime.

The Falling of the Lenins


On the night of December 8, 2013, a huge crowd gathered on a tree-lined boulevard in downtown Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

Earth Defense: Shaking Buildings in the World’s Largest Earthquake Simulator


Japanese architecture and building codes have evolved over time to defend against the ever-present threat of earthquakes.

Logo Lookalikes: Vintage Predecessors to Contemporary Company Logos


Designing a new logo is harder than it looks. Even when designers come up with something they have never seen before it does not necessarily mean their design is entirely original.

Negative Space: Logo Design with Michael Bierut


Michael Bierut is an award-winning designer, partner at Pentagram in New York City, and author of various books on design.

99% Allusional & Radiotopia Live Tour: Coming to LA, SF, Portland & Seattle


Join Roman Mars and a host of other podcast stars in a series of upcoming live events across the West Coast, starting with a team-up (or: portmanSHOW) of 99% Invisible and The Allusionist in Los Angeles.

Special Feature: Roman Mars & Kevin Smokler Discuss Classic 1980s Teen Movies


The 1980s were a transitional time for American concepts of urban and suburban life, particularly from the perspective of the middle class.


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