The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design

Roman Mars, Kurt Kohlstedt

nonfiction history reference
informative slow-paced

400 pages | first published 2020

A beautifully designed guidebook to the unnoticed yet essential elements of our cities, from the creators of the wildly popular 99% Invisible podcast 

Have you ever wondered what those bright, squiggly graffiti marks on the sidewalk mean?

Or stopped to ponder who gets to name the streets we walk along?

Or what the story is behind those dancing inflatable figures in car dealerships?


99% Invisible is a big-ideas podcast about small-seeming things, revealing stories baked into the buildings we inhabit, the streets we drive, and the sidewalks we traverse. The show celebrates design and architecture in all of its functional glory and accidental absurdity, with intriguing tales of both designers and the people impacted by their designs.

Now, in The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to Hidden World of Everyday Design, host Roman Mars and coauthor Kurt Kohlstedt zoom in on the various elements that make our cities work, exploring the origins and other fascinating stories behind everything from power grids and fire escapes to drinking fountains and street signs. With deeply researched entries and beautiful line drawings throughout, The 99% Invisible City will captivate devoted fans of the show and anyone curious about design, urban environments, and the unsung marvels of the world around them.

What the community thinks

summary of 52 ratings (see reviews)

Moods

informative 90%
lighthearted 31%
inspiring 27%
reflective 27%
relaxing 18%
funny 13%
adventurous 9%
challenging 4%
hopeful 4%

Pace

medium 66%
slow 19%
fast 14%

Average rating

3.85