Small Thing Big Idea
This original TED series celebrates the lasting genius of everyday objects so perfectly designed that they changed the world around them. (Made possible with the support of The North Face.)
Why pasta comes in all shapes and sizes
Think twice when picking what pasta you want for dinner. The shape of your noodle makes a difference, explains Paola Antonelli, senior curator at The Museum of Modern Art.
The evolution of the coffee cup lid
Author A.J. Jacobs shows how the coffee cup lid was perfectly designed to give you a full sensory experience while drinking.
How the compass unlocked the world
"Everything that we think of as world history would not have taken place without the compass." TED science curator David Biello explains how the device changed our relationship to the world.
The function and fashion of eyeglasses
Glasses were originally created to overcome physical obstacles, but design evangelist Debbie Millman shares how they turned into a fashion statement.
Jennifer 8. Lee
Why 1.5 billion people eat with chopsticks
Author Jennifer 8. Lee explains how the chopstick spread from the East to the West -- and was designed to give you the perfect bite.
Why books are here to stay
Despite the rise of e-books, physical books aren't going anywhere. Graphic designer Chip Kidd shares why their design is so lasting.
The power of the Afro pick
The Afro pick is much more than a styling tool. It's a major player in Black history, explains artist Jon Gray.
How surfboards connect us to nature
Here's how the surfboard changed our relationship to water, according to fuseproject founder Yves Béhar.
The North Face
The next step in the evolution of clothing
Clothing has always been about enhancing human ability -- from animal skins that protected our ancestors from the cold to advanced fabrics that let us explore the limits of Earth. What's next? Answering the call from their global athletic team, The North Face team recently developed an innovative technology called FUTURELIGHT, offering breathable, waterproof protection. Watch as Jason Israel, global creative director of performance at The North Face, explains the inspiration and science behind this new tech -- and its potentially endless applications. As he puts it: "If the history of textiles has taught us anything, it's that with every leap forward in technology, there's an equally great leap forward in ability."
The genius of the London Tube Map
Design legend Michael Bierut tells the story of the accidental success of one of the most famous maps in the world -- the London Tube Map.
The 3,000-year history of the hoodie
The hoodie is a lot more than just a comfy sweatshirt. Design curator Paola Antonelli takes us through its history.
Why the pencil is perfect
Why are pencils shaped like hexagons, and how did they get their iconic yellow color? Pencil shop owner Caroline Weaver takes us inside the fascinating history of the pencil.
How the progress bar keeps you sane
The progress bar makes waiting more exciting... and mitigates our fear of death. Journalist Daniel Engber explores how it came into existence.
How the jump rope got its rhythm
"Down down, baby, down down the roller coaster..." Hip-hop owes a lot to the queens of double dutch. Ethnomusicologist Kyra Gaunt takes us on a tour of the fascinating history of the jump rope.
How the button changed fashion
How the simple button changed the world, according to fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi.
The hidden ways stairs shape your life
Stairs don't just get you from point A to point B. Architect David Rockwell explains how they shape your movement -- and your feelings.