That’s right, you can learn about design without pictures!
Design podcasts are an excellent way to get inspired on your commute or while lounging on a weekend morning. That’s right, design podcasts—there’s actually quite a lot you can learn and enjoy about visual arts and architecture through recorded conversation. No pictures required!
Often, these podcasts come from completely independent producers, act as an extension of academic programs, and are associated with design media or radio. The topics are just as varied, and you can be a total beginner to get sucked into any of them—the conversations transport, educate, and entertain. Here are ten that span the field, covering everything from architecture to interior design, fashion, furniture, urban planning, and more.
A giant of the genre, 99% Invisible is the design podcast go-to for many. It explores topics ranging from the history of the fortune cookie to gerrymandering, to the graphic design of the Mexico ’68 Olympics. Basically, no subject is too obscure or seemingly unrelated; 99% Invisible finds a design thread through any topic.
Design and Architecture
Los Angeles’ KCRW is the home to DnA Design and Architecture, a podcast hosted by Frances Anderton that takes a thoughtful look at architecture and design. Many episodes tackle issues and topics pertaining to Los Angeles, but there are others that address the field as a whole.
Evan Troxel, Neal Pann, and Cormac Phalen host this twice-monthly discussion on all things architecture and interior design. They’re focused just as much as what it’s like to work in the field as on the design itself.
Scratching the Surface
Jarrett Fuller hosts Scratching the Surface, a design podcast about the intersection of criticism and practice (and no, you don’t need to know anything about either to enjoy it). He interviews designers, writers, critics, and educators, connecting how writing, criticism, and theory informs individual practice and the graphic design profession at large. Recent guests include Peter Mendelsund, Shannon Mattern, and Bryan Boyer.
From Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) comes Conversations, a podcast hosted by the school’s dean that explores the growing field of contemporary architectural practice through discussions with guests from emerging and well-established practices, as well as the school’s faculty and alumni.
Legendary graphic designer Michael Bierut and founding editor of Design Observer Jessica Helfand host this podcast that touches on timely topics—hello, pop culture buffs—meanders into different design professions, and explores the field’s intersections with technology. No topic (memes, LSD, #metoo) is off-limits.
Monocle on Design
Monocle covers global fashion, furniture, and architecture. This podcast delves more deeply into each field, and explores how they intersect with other topics Monocle covers, from transportation to politics. Example: What it’s actually like to live in Brasilia.
Debbie Millman started Design Matters in 2005, way ahead of the podcast boom we know today. Guests on Design Matters, which is also hosted on Design Observer, come from a variety of disciplines, and you can sort them by that category on the website—an easy way to get to what you want, since there are over 200 episodes.
Clever: A Podcast About Design
Not to be confused with a certain website of the same name (ahem!), Clever: A Podcast About Design is hosted by designer Amy Devers and Design Milk’s founder and executive editor, Jaime Derringer. Each episode is generally focused on an interview with someone influential in the design industry, whether that’s of cars, architecture, fashion, interiors, furniture, or the like.
About Buildings and Cities
With a focus on architecture and urban landscapes, About Buildings and Cities explores topics such as Aldo Rossi’s buildings and the Barbican Estate, and deep dives on Le Corbusier and Michelangelo.
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