Design for the Real World is an inside look at the hidden genius of everyday things - lipstick, sheetrock, tea bags, ballparks - from Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, public radio's weekly guide to what's happening in the culture. Produced by Public Radio International and WNYC.

Recently in Design for the Real World

Design for the Real World: Dialysis Machine

Friday, May 18, 2012

Before the invention of the dialysis machine, kidney failure was basically a death sentence. Registered nurse Janice Breen explains how the design of dialysis machines has evolved since she started working with them back in 1973 ...

Comments [2]

Design For the Real World: Super Mario Bros

Friday, July 29, 2011

When Nintendo released Donkey Kong in 1981, it was one of the only arcade games in which you did more than just blast space invaders. It contained an entire world, with a damsel in distress and an unlikely hero: a little Italian plumber named Mario. ...

Comments [1]

Design For the Real World: Pop-Tab

Friday, June 24, 2011

In 1960, zip tops made opening aluminum cans more convenient — and dangerous. Those razor-sharp metal tags you ripped off and threw away were a hazard for the thirsty. That all changed in 1972, when a young engineer named Daniel Cudzik...

Comments [3]

Design For the Real World: The Periodic Table

Friday, April 01, 2011

For chemists, the periodic table of the elements is a hugely coveted piece of real estate. Writer Sam Kean explains the origins of the periodic table and its enduring brilliance. Produced by KJHK’s Becky Sullivan.

Comments [5]

Design for the Real World: Kitchen

Friday, January 28, 2011

Kitchen designer Lyn Peterson says that everything we take for granted can be traced back to the Frankfurt Kitchen, created by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky in the late 1920s. It's the mother of all modern kitchens, and an original version was recently acquired by New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Comments [1]

Design for the Real World: Interstate Signs

Friday, January 21, 2011

Road signs on interstate highways have been standardized since the Eisenhower era. But the typeface is badly out of date, and it looks fuzzy in all sorts of road conditions. Graphic designer Don Meeker explains how he helped bring highway signage back into focus with a typeface called Clearview. Produced by Studio 360’s Derek John.

Comments [4]

Design for the Real World: Dialysis Machine

Friday, December 10, 2010

Before the invention of the dialysis machine, kidney failure was basically a death sentence. Registered nurse Janice Breen explains how the design of dialysis machines has evolved since she started working with them back in 1973. Produced by Gretta Cohn.

Comments [3]

Design for the Real World: Neon

Friday, December 03, 2010

Neon signage has been around for exactly a century, but today the glowing lights face competition from cheaper LED technology. Physics professor Eric Schiff and Jeff Friedman, of New York's Let There Be Neon studio, explain what's behind neon's everlasting glow. Produced by Jordan Sayle.

Comments [7]

Design for the Real World: London Underground Map

Friday, October 15, 2010

London's old, intensely convoluted subway required a new kind of map that broke the rules of cartography. Chris Spurgeon explains why the 1931 Underground map was copied from Tokyo to Chicago.

Comment

Design for the Real World: @

Friday, August 13, 2010

Earlier this year the Museum of Modern Art acquired the "@" symbol as part of its permanent collection. MoMA design curator, Paola Antonelli, tells the story of how it came to be so ubiquitous. Produced by Kim Gittleson.

Comments [3]

Design for the Real World: Duct Tape

Friday, June 04, 2010

Designed for keeping ammunition dry in World War II, duct tape is now available in every color, clear, camouflage, and tie-dye. Author Tim Nyberg explains how duct tape has become ubiquitous. Produced by Dennis Nishi.

Comment

Design for the Real World: Moped

Friday, January 29, 2010

Nathan Isherwood owns a moped repair and retail shop in Brooklyn. He loves the modest motorbikes because they're easy to fix and they get 100 miles per gallon. Produced by Matt Frassica.

Comments [2]

Design for the Real World: Skulls

Friday, October 30, 2009

Graphic designer Noah Scalin created a new skull design every day for a year and posted them to his blog Skull-a-Day. He used whatever was at hand: breakfast cereal, sparklers, and little green army men. Scalin thinks that no matter the material, the skull is timeless. ...

Comment

Design for the Real World: Throwback Uniforms

Friday, October 09, 2009

This fall, eight NFL teams have donned the old American Football League uniforms. Graphic designer and sports blogger Jim Ransdell thinks these bold, simple patterns are timeless. Produced by Alana Harper.

Comments [2]

Design for the Real World: Air Force One

Friday, July 31, 2009

Air Force One, the Presidential 747, is designed to be a White House in the sky. But it wasn't always so deluxe. Historian Gene Eisman explains how Air Force One evolved from a bare-metal military jet into its current hi-tech luxury incarnation. Produced by

Comment

Design for the Real World: Zoot Suit

Friday, June 12, 2009

You might remember zoot suits from the swing craze in the late nineties. But for one Southern California tailor and her prom-bound customers, zoot suits have never gone out of style. Produced by Eric Molinsky.

Comment

Design for the Real World: Cubicle

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cubicles have a bad reputation as soul-crushing, gray boxes wallpapered in Post-its. But they were originally designed to promote health and wellness. Cubicle pioneer Joe Schwartz explains what went wrong. Produced by Catherine Epstein.

Comment

Design for the Real World: Revolving Door

Friday, April 17, 2009

It’s been spinning for over a hundred years but, as James Buzard explains, some people still aren't comfortable with it. Where it stops, nobody knows. Produced by Chloe Plaunt.

Comment

Design for the Real World: The Whisk

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wylie Dufresne loves state-of-the-art equipment, but his favorite kitchen tool is modest: the whisk. We asked an expert, Gourmet Magazine’s style director Corky Pollan, what makes a whisk really mix and beat. 

Comment

Design for the Real World: Slots

Friday, March 13, 2009

You put your coins in, they disappear forever ... and somehow you don't mind. We sent Hammad Ahmed to Atlantic City to find out what makes a slot machine spin.

Comments [10]