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?

Manassas Park Elementary School, Manassas, Virginia. Architect: VMDO Architects, PC.

Educating Americans for the 21st Century

Where Are the Greenest Schools in the Country?

The definition of being eco-conscious is so much more than having solar panels on a roof

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?


Would You Like to Browse an Edo-Period Japanese Bookstore?

The brush to block revolution saw a flowering of Japanese popular culture that still intrigues and enchants

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

Jesper Kongshaug's Northern Lights display at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

The Northern Lights—From Scientific Phenomenon to Artists’ Muse

The spectacular aurora borealis is inspiring artists to create light installations, musical compositions, food and fashion

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


Winged Migration: The 77-Carat Butterfly Brooch That “Glows” in the Dark

The piece by Taiwanese artist Cindy Chao has a surprise revealed only under ultraviolet light

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 lava lamp was invented by Edward Craven Walker whose other claim to fame was making underwater nudist films.

The History of the Lava Lamp

At 50, the legendary relic of the college dorm room is still groovy after all these years

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


With Biodesign, Life is Not Only the Subject of Art, But the Medium Too

Artists are borrowing from biology to create dazzling "biodesigns" that challenge our aesthetics—and our place in nature

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