Infrastructural graffiti in the streets of New Haven, CT (original photo)

Decoding The City: The Road Graffiti Placed by Utility Workers

These infrastructural lines mark the pathways of pipes and wires beneath the paved surface -- but what does each color mean?


The 64-Square Grid Design of ‘Through the Looking Glass’

The sequel to Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland was designed to be a playable, albeit whimsical chess problem


When Modern Art Met the Classic Chess Set

How far can you push the design of a knight before it stops looking like a knight?

A blank NFPA 704 panel

Decoding the City: The Fire Diamond

Just what are those red, blue, and yellow diamonds hanging outside warehouses and factories?

Traditional chess pieces in the Staunton design

How the Chess Set Got Its Look and Feel

The vaunted Staunton Chess Set, the standard chess set you probably grew up with, has its roots in neoclassical architecture


Now You Know the History of G.I. Joe. And Knowing Is Half The Battle

The evolution of the All American Hero from artist's mannequin to action figure


The History of the Minivan

The iconic car changed the way families drove


The Debate Continues Over How to Rebuild New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward

Five years in, the merits of Make It Right's housing project are under new scrutiny

Koss SP3 headphones

A Partial History of Headphones

Modern headphones have their origin in opera houses, military bases and a kitchen table in Utah

A high resolution photo of the Chicago River on St. Patrick’s Day

A New Meaning to Green Urban Design: Dyeing the Chicago River

The story behind how the Windy City gets its yearly watery makeover


Who Really Invented the Smiley Face?

It's supposedly the 50th anniversary of the original design of the iconic image, but its history since then is surprisingly complex with millions of dollars at stake

Floyd Smith, patent 1,462,456 for a parachute pack and harness, 1919

An Early History of the Parachute

It wasn't a military expert or an aviation pioneer, but a Russian actor who developed the first viable parachute

A colored print of La Minerve

Hot Air Balloon Travel for the Luxury Traveler of the 1800s

Visionary designers of the 19th century believed that the future of air travel depended on elaborate airships

The titular draughtsman looks through his perspective machine in this still from Peter Greenaway’s 1982 film The Draughtsman’s Contract

Digital Files and 3D Printing—in the Renaissance?

3D printing is a new technology that seems poised to change the world, but its origins date back all the way to the 15th century

The AirWaves mask by Frog Shanghai

How to Survive China’s Pollution Problem: Masks and Bubbles

The air quality in China's biggest cities is famously atrocious, but designers think they may have found a way to combat the issue

Micro-unit LaunchPad, Clei s.r.l/Resource Furniture; architecture by Amie Gross Architects

Micro Apartments Are the Future of Urban Living

To combat the housing crisis in major American cities, architects are designing smaller, more efficient apartments that will change the way urbanites live


The Drones of the Future May Build Skyscrapers

Innovative architects are experimenting with small unmanned aerial vehicles to prove that drones can do more than cause destruction


Unmanned Drones Have Been Around Since World War I

They have recently been the subject of a lot of scrutiny, but the American military first began developing similar aerial vehicles during World War I

Shura City

Imagining a Drone-Proof City in the Age of Surveillance

As drones become common as tools of the military and intelligence agencies, how are architects and designers responding?


The Privacy Wars: Goggles That Block Facial Recognition Technology

For designers, the battle over what it means to be private in a very public world is a new frontier to be conquered

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