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. Machines take less time but still require loading and unloading, cost money and occupy quite a bit of kitchen real estate. Sink-side racks add labor and clutter while taking up space on kitchen counters. What if you could skip these extra objects and steps and simply let your dishes dry in their own time in a cabinet? Inventor Maiju Gebhard with vintage dish drying closet (left) and contemporary version (right) “Being Finnish there are many designers and designs I can be proud of,” says 99% Invisible listener and reader Anton Häggman, “especially in architecture and furniture design.” But, he continues, “there is one Finnish design that I am more proud of than any other: the dish draining closet” (also known as a dish drying cabinet). Typical Finnish drying setup with multiple shelves concealed above the kitchen sink “That might sound strange, but stay with me because it’s the most quintessentially Finnish design ever — it’s practical, unobtrusive and cheap,” Häggman explains, and makes perfect sense once you use it. Dish Drying Cabinet patented by Louise […]
Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we’ve just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible (99 Percent Invisible) is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars, KALW in San Francisco, and Radiotopia from PRX.
On the night of December 8, 2013, a huge crowd gathered on a tree-lined boulevard in downtown Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. The crowd was there to watch as a statue in the boulevard was pulled down by a crane. The toppled statue was of Vladimir Lenin — the communist leader who started the revolution that created the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Ukraine was once a part of the Soviet Union. A documentary film called “All Things Ablaze” captured this moment. The camera lingers on one man in a shiny track suit who spits on his hand, crosses himself three times, then starts whacking away with a sledgehammer with all his might. For the protestors, this Lenin statue represents old Ukraine — one that is associated with the Soviet Union and with Russia. Man attempting to protect a fallen Lenin statue from destruction in All Things Ablaze The same protests that brought down that Lenin statue eventually brought about a new government in Ukraine, which sought to eliminate all physical reminders of communism and Russia. But it hasn’t been easy, logistically or politically, because removing these things erases history that is still important to some Ukrainians. Furthermore, communist […]
Japanese architecture and building codes have evolved over time to defend against the ever-present threat of earthquakes. Still, no amount of calculations, small-scale physical models or virtual computer modeling can substitute for real world testing. Hence the E-Defense (short for Earth Defense) complex, which houses Japan’s full-scale earthquake simulator. This giant device was designed and built in the wake of a particularly devastating natural disaster. The 6.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Kobe in 1995 was a wake-up call for the Japanese government. “In total,” writes architect Alastair Townsend, “around 150,000 properties were ruined by the earthquake and ensuing fires, leaving 300,000 homeless. 6,300 people lost their lives.” Predictably, many older buildings that were insufficiently braced for lateral loads (shaking side to side) were damaged or destroyed. But newer buildings also suffered more in the quake than expected. Townsend, who spent years running an architectural practice in Japan, explains that “these surprising failures exposed an unsettling truth: calculations alone could not fully predict the complex movements that bring buildings crashing down in a major seismic event.” Computer models help but are necessarily abstract. Miniature physical models can distort full-scale forces. But “to remove all doubt, one would have to build a full-scale […]
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. Nothing is original, esp. in #design. (btw, these are NOT the logos of Medium AirBNB, Flipboard, and Beats)pic.twitter.com/JNDsM0rhod — Spencer Chen (@spencerchen) April 27, 2016 Tech industry veteran Spencer Chen was flipping through the pages of Trademarks & Symbols of the World: The Alphabet in Design, published in 1989, when he found a series of remarkable lookalikes. In aggregate, old logos from the book can look somewhat dated, but design goes in cycles and some approaches and styles have come back into fashion. Stylized letter ‘M’-based logos from Trade Marks & Symbols, Volume 1: Alphabetical Designs As designers like Michael Bierut of Pentagram know from experience, there are only so many truly unique variations that can be assembled from existing typefaces and simple geometric manipulations. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that Medium’s ‘M’ looks a lot like the 1977 logo for Metrocraft, a US publishing company that likewise created a three-dimensional letter by folding a flat plane. Airbnb’s current curvaceous logo, meanwhile, resembles one designed for Japan’s Azuma […]
Michael Bierut is an award-winning designer, partner at Pentagram in New York City, and author of various books on design. Over his decades in the field of graphic design, he has witnessed a shift in public awareness, especially when it comes to logos. With this increased attention, some endeavors (like political campaigns) that once relied on relatively simple conventions (candidate names and variations on flags) are being called upon to develop more refined and versatile solutions. The Political Logoscape Whether by accident or design, President Obama’s rising sun logo changed the landscape of presidential graphic design. The distinctive ‘O’ shape was simple and correspondingly highly flexible, able to be deployed in different contexts and at various scales. That logo, notes Bierut, “established a benchmark for campaigns” going forward, in part because its central feature (the stylized ‘O’) could be pulled out and used independently of the candidate’s name or election year text. With the Clinton campaign, Bierut sought to “exploit some of the characteristics that people had come to appreciate about the Obama logo, one of which was that it could be adapted into different forms.” The result was intentionally simple: the letter H with an arrow pointing forward, rendered […]