Why I love 99% Invisible

I cycle through most things in life. I’ll get really interested in a band and listen to them like crazy and then something else shiny captures my attention and I’m off to obsess over that for a while. There’s just so much out there to see and listen to and learn!

A while back when I was driving to work for 45 minutes each way… every. day. I started listening to podcasts of 99% Invisible. I was hooked. I downloaded all of them and would continue listening at work when I could. But then I got busy and was trying to get ready for my move and was listening to NPR some in the mornings, making lists in my head and just forgot to listen to my podcasts.

Well, guess who thought of it this morning? This girl. So as I’m getting ready I get online to the site and listen to a few and my mind is so much happier for it. Here’s the thing I love about 99% Invisible. It’s about design. Not just “architecture” … design, people! Why we do the things we do, mistakes that were made and how people adapted. How things work naturally and how we as architects sometimes try to force a direction that goes against the grain and sure enough winds up not working. And the things I have learned, like where Razzle Dazzle came from, will travel with me throughout my life. I think that’s my favorite podcast, by far.

So the podcast I have listened to 3 times today is the one about Otis Elevators. Elisha Otis invented the elevator brake. Safety first, please. His sons went on to market the hell out of this family business and convinced hotels to take their best rooms and instead of putting them on the ground floor, so the rich folk didn’t have to shlep it up stairs, to put them on the top floors. And so the penthouse was born. Patrons could safely use the elevator without the fear of falling to their death and they could be above the noise, hustle and bustle of the street below. Isn’t it wonderful how one thing, one invention, one idea could be the catalyst of a whole world of design possibilities? Amazing.

Don’t you feel so very satisfied after learning about cool stuff? I do!

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