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KISS & Mark Up: 10 Bizarre KISS Branded Products

16 Oct

[ By Steve in Design & Graphics & Branding. ]

KISS and its hustling frontman Gene Simmons continue to raise the rock music merchandising bar, licensing thousands of products ranging from banal to bizarre.

KISS my buns? Only if they’re KISS Super-Spicy Chili Tomato meat buns, because one would naturally expect KISS-branded steamed meat-filled buns to be… Hotter Than Hell! Partnering with Japan’s Circle K Sunkus convenience stores (strange things really are afoot at the Circle K) to promote KISS’s late-2013 Japanese concert tour, these frighteningly lava-like buns cost $ 1 each and were packaged in one of five collectible paper wrappers: one for each band member plus one more featuring the entire band.

The buns are embossed with the well-known KISS logo and their odd grey coloration comes from edible bamboo charcoal. Inside, super-spicy habanero chilies add a fitting dose of demonic heat. Sorry, Red Hot Chili Peppers, looks like Gene Simmons & Co stole your thunder. Kudos to Rocketnews24 for reporting on this weird but tasteful marketing gimmick.

KISS Gene Simmons Inflatable Tongue

What’s cosplay without prosthetics and what’s a Gene Simmons Demon outfit without a KISS Inflatable Tongue? In fact, forget the cosplay and outfit, just go with the tongue – always a winning strategy (unless your name’s Harvey Weinstein).

This official KISS product supposedly inflates to 3 times its original size… think The Grinch but MUCH more disturbing. The package also bears a cautionary “Warning: Choking Hazard” blurb though were not sure if the user or the usee is at risk… maybe both. If you dare, check out this video from Scott Vs Box as our hero, Scott, unboxes the tongue.

KISS Matryoshka Nesting Dolls

Does Putin know about this? Never mind, he’s probably got an autographed set of his own. KISS Rock And Roll Nesting Dolls take the classic Russian Matryoshka concept to a very strange universe indeed. One wonders what goes through the minds of the aging babushkas employed to hand-craft these “stunning glossy” dolls, though it’s probably not the extended version of “Beth”. Offered by The Russianstore, est. 1992 – just after the fall of communism. Thanks, Yeltsin.

KISS Frozen Ice Bars

You’ll have to go all the way back to 1980 (and all the way to Australia, no less) to find KISS Ice Blocks, “a frozen thunderbolt of refreshing flavour”. Manufactured by Peters Ice Cream, the way-cool bars did NOT feature the face of “Cat Man” Peter Criss, who had been fired from the band before KISS left for their hugely successful KISS Monster Tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Instead of Cat-Man Criss, Eric “The Fox” Carr peers out from the 10-pack box. As for the ice bars themselves, they feature bands of frozen cola, raspberry and lemonade. Yum! Check out a make-up-free Paul and Gene plugging the bars in this short (1:22) official video from Peters.

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Kiss Mark Up 10 Bizarre Kiss Branded Products

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[ By Steve in Design & Graphics & Branding. ]

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A New Spin: 125-Year-Old Windmill Turned into a Towering Guest House

14 Oct

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

From barns and sheds to windmills, rural farm structures have a habit of falling into disrepair when they cease to serve their old functions. In Suffolk, England, one such old structure has found new life as a guest house.

Beech Architects saw the stump of an old windmill on the site as an opportunity to expand the living space of the main farmhouse nearby. At 60 feet tall, the spacious structure now houses two bedrooms, a dining/kitchen area and bathroom.

On the top, where the cap and sails were lost decades ago, a new viewing pod was installed to provide panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Though architects designed the addition, the homeowner acted as the builder and hired subcontractors and suppliers for specific tasks.

“The design objectives were to reinstate the lost cap structure and restore the redundant and crumbling windmill to its former landmark status via contemporary design interventions,” said the architects.

The cap and entry diverge from the historical aesthetic of the main structure, but also serve to illustrate what parts of the building are original and which have been added. The curved form of the cap uses a special timber rib system that also provides strength and stability, helping it resist wind forces at its exposed and elevated location.

Everything about the project was complicated by curves. New cladding had to be custom-fit to the exterior. Inside, the lack of straight lines made structural retrofits challenging, and also resulted in a series of rounded furniture and fixtures. A series of staircases spiral up each floor to the final fourth level with the viewing platform.

The building has won a variety of accolades, including awards from the 2016 National Roofing Awards, Structural Timber Awards and a nomination for an RIBA Regional Awards 2017.

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Trippy Tiles: Optical Illusion Installation Will Mess with Your Brain

14 Oct

[ By SA Rogers in Design & Fixtures & Interiors. ]

Looking at this picture, it seems pretty obvious that something is seriously wrong with the floor… right? And yet, as we should all know by now, things aren’t always as they seem, no matter how hard our brains try to reconcile the fact that a flat surface can look so believably sunken on one side. It’s kind of hard to wrap your mind around the fact that the effect is achieved simply by warping the shape of the tiles as they’re applied to the floor.

The new entrance floor at Casa Ceramica #Manchester now try and process that this floor is actually flat!! #tile #floorporn #decorporn #decor #tileporn #architectureporn #tiles #trippy #tilelove #love #lookbook #lovetiles #largeformat #largeformattiles #decor #design #detail #designer #decorporn #illusion #instagood #interiors #innovation #illusionist #ihavethisthingwithtiles #ihavethisthingwithfloors #roomdecor #roomforinspo #lovetiles #architectureporn #alice #aliceinwonderland

A post shared by Casa Ceramica Tile Company (@casaceramicatiles) on

Casa Ceramica Tile Company created the illusion for the entrance to their own showroom in Manchester, UK. People must have had a hard time believing that the tiles are really flat from initial photos posted to Instagram and Twitter, because the company posted subsequent photos and videos of the installation process, saying “Like our entrance floor made from tiles #sorrynotsorry.”

Apparently, the illusion only works from one direction, and when visitors are exiting the building, it looks like a normal tile walkway.

Unsurprisingly, the illusion blew up on Twitter and became something of an internet sensation. You might dig through the company’s website or Instagram hoping for more optical illusions, but it looks like most of their work is pretty standard. Maybe this project will get them some fun commissions.

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[ By SA Rogers in Design & Fixtures & Interiors. ]

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Playful Kirigami: Touch-Activated Paper Animals Pop into Action

12 Oct

[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Products & Packaging. ]

Acting out scenes from storybooks or animating real activities, these deceptively simple-looking, folded-paper toys leap, bounce, roll and hatch into action when played with.

Japanese designer Haruki Nakamura was inspired by the ancient art of kirigami, a variation on origami that involves cuts as well as folds, but takes it to the next level with his playful animals.

The specific behaviors of the toys often follow the natural reactions of a given animal, like an armadillo rolling itself up for protection when threatened.

Combining kirigami with karakuri, the art of mechanical puppets actived by touch, led him to these neat hybrid creatures that one can poke, prod, press or drop into action.

In some cases, the activities are innocent and entertaining, like a turtle popping into its shell or a chick hatching from an egg. Others are humorously sinister, showing wolves in sheep’s clothing or a tortoise being eaten by an alligator. For now, alas, these works are only available in Japan.

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Picnic at the Border: Artist JR Hosts Bi-National Meal at a Giant Table

12 Oct

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]


At one small point on the United States-Mexico border, where two towns named Tecate are separated by a fence, residents of both countries sat down to the same picnic at a gigantic table printed with ‘The Eyes of the Dreamer.’ This new event, held on October 8th, comes just weeks after the artist rolled out a massive 65-foot-tall photographic installation of a toddler peering over the fence from the Mexico side.

“GIANT PICNIC at the border today in Tecate … people eating the same food, sharing the same water, enjoying the same music (half of the band on each side) around the eye of a dreamer … we forgot the wall for a minute …” says JR in a Facebook post.

Picnic-goers sat down to the same meal at one big table for the single-day installation, which was apparently pulled off with the help of a sympathetic border guard. A band played, with some of its members sitting on the U.S. side and others on the Mexico side.

JR is well known for these black-and-white photographic installations, which are put up all over the world, often without official permission. The subjects of his portraits are usually everyday people who live in the area. The TED Prize winner says he aims to use art to “turn the world inside out.”

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Not Your Dive Bar’s Pool Table: 13 Modern Game Furniture Designs

12 Oct

[ By SA Rogers in Design & Fixtures & Interiors. ]

Most game furniture looks like it belongs in a musty basement smelling of spilled beer and body odor, but high end tables for billiards, foosball, ping pong, shuffleboard and other popular indoor games are made to fit right into luxury environments, sometimes even complete with plated gold details. Some are even works of art in their own right, doubling as sculpture, while others bring games that haven’t changed much in decades a little more firmly into the current century.

Ping Pong FM Interactive Table Tennis Jukebox

This ‘fun musical take’ on table tennis by English designer Mark Wheeler lets you choose a song to set the tempo of your game, and the song only keeps playing as long as you manage to keep the ball in play. Drop it, and your game is over. “Usually music listening experiences are strictly about being as true to the original recording as possible. But why can’t listening to a record be as playful and interactive as a live performance?” says Wheeler.

Luxury Game Tables by Adriano Design

A gold-plated crystalline foosball table is among the ‘luxury’ game options offered by Adriano Design, an Italian-based company operating as both ‘Calma e Gesso’ and ‘TECKELL.’ The Cristallino comes complete with 24-karat-gold plated players – because what else would the owner of a $ 10 million estate put in their game room? Other offerings include the ‘Filotto’ pool table and the Lungolinea ping pong table, all made in the company’s signature crystal-clear glass. They even produce child-sized ‘Angolo’ foosball table models for kids, which spare no stylish details.

Isamu Noguchi Chess Table

Considered a seminal work of early organic modernism, Isamu Noguchi’s chess table is technically a functional sculpture, presented along with a set of game pieces Noguchi also designed. It debuted at ‘The Imagery of Chess’ in 1944, a show organized by Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst. The table was put into production in 1947, but only a few dozen examples exist. One was auctioned in Los Angeles in 2016, selling for over $ 100,000.

Woolsey Shuffleboard Table by Sean Woolsey

Long, narrow and sleek, the Woolsey Shuffleboard Table by designer Sean Woolsey features a rift-sawn white oak top finished with epoxy resin and solid black walnut legs, which hide leg levelers. The table comes with 4 white and 4 black pucks, lots of shuffleboard salt and a magnetic wall mount for the pucks when not in use. Prices, unsurprisingly, start at $ 10K.

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Not Your Dive Bars Pool Table 13 Modern Game Furniture Designs

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Huge Color-Coded ‘LEGO House’ Designed by BIG Now Open in Denmark

11 Oct

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

Designed by architects from BIG, the new LEGO House is itself huge: a 130,000-square-foot ‘experience center’ welcoming people of all ages to play with and appreciate this ubiquitous toy.

“It has been a dream for me for many years to create a place that will give our visitors the ultimate LEGO experience,” said former president and CEO of LEGO, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. A mesmerizing set of drone videos below show the building under construction and upon completion.

“With LEGO House, we celebrate creativity and the strength of learning through play. When they play, children learn the basic skills that they need, such as creativity, collaboration and problem-solving abilities.”

Located on the company’s main campus in Billund, Denmark, the building looks like it was made of 21 supersized blocks. Inside, differently colored zones denote different functions — red areas are for creative skills, blue for cognitive skills, green for social skills and yellow for emotional skills.

The venue includes paid attractions as well as experiences that are free and open to the public. Approximately 250,000 guests are expected annually, with around 2,500 visitors on peak days. Fans of their visit can take home something tangible from the experience as well:

The LEGO House opened its doors to the public in late September, coinciding with the release of a 744-piece kit of the building itself.

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Doing Our Dirty Work: Crows Trained to Clean Up Cigarette Butts

10 Oct

[ By SA Rogers in Gadgets & Geekery & Technology. ]

Should we really be training ultra-smart birds to do our dirty work for us, picking up cigarette butts all over our cities in exchange for treats? One Dutch start-up hopes their clever ‘Crowbar’ will be an easy and mutually beneficial way to deal with the ongoing problem of this specific kind of urban litter, making use of the corvid’s unusual intelligence. Crowded Cities proposes hanging smart machines around the city that train the birds to clean up butts.

‘Crowbar’ is based on the ‘Crow Box,’ an open-source project that gives crows peanuts in exchange for coins. The birds learned that they only get rewarded for inserting a particular kind of object. The Crow Box is just one example of humans testing crows’ ability to understand cause and effect and documenting the results.  They explain the process as follows:

“The crows bring a cigarette filter to the Crowbar, where they drop it into the bottom funnel to get it checked. After the camera has recognized the cigarette filter as  a filter, it returns a bit of food to the table in front of the crow. The crow goes out telling others, or keeps his secret to himself – we are not sure.”

Apparently we’ll find out, as the team finishes assembling the CrowBar and puts it out into the world. In the Netherlands, more than 6 billion cigarette filters are tossed onto the street each year, and each one takes 12 years to degrade. It’s not hard to imagine this project seeing some kind of success – have you ever had a crow drop a nut right in front of your car while you’re driving, in the hopes that your tires will act as giant nutcrackers? They’re incredibly smart.

But it’s a bit disturbing to imagine crows being repeatedly exposed to the carcinogens present in cigarette butts, potentially punishing them in the long term for a stupid human behavior. Plus, it’s only a matter of time before the crows start snatching lit cigarettes right out of people’s hands.

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[ By SA Rogers in Gadgets & Geekery & Technology. ]

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Rail to Trail: 12 U.S. Park Projects Reclaiming Urban Infrastructure

10 Oct

[ By SA Rogers in Destinations & Sights & Travel. ]

A whole lot of valuable land in America’s densest urban centers is occupied by the disused and often toxic remnants of neglected infrastructure, industrial complexes and other blight that could be green space instead. Taking inspiration from New York City’s High Line, an elevated linear park along a former New York Central Railroad spur, many cities are transforming urban riverbanks, viaducts, underpasses, freeway structures and even the tops of tunnels into parks, bike paths, pedestrian routes and other public amenities.

11th Street Bridge Park, Washington DC by OMA and OLIN

An aging freeway structure over the Anacostia River in Washington D.C. is set to become the 11th Street Bridge Park, with officials announcing in October 2017 that a design by OMA + OLIN has been chosen. Each ‘lane’ of the bridge is pulled upward toward the middle, crossing each other to form an X shape; the space underneath these overhangs will host a performance area, cafe, plazas and other public functions.

Lowline, New York City, New York by James Ramsey and Daniel Barasch

Complementing New York City’s famous High Line park, a 1.45-mile greenway built on a former New York Central Railroad spur, the subterranean ‘Lowline’ has been given a green light. Set to be the world’s first underground park, it will be tucked into a former trolley terminal in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, with a design by James Ramsey and Daniel Barasch. “The transformation of an old, forgotten trolley terminal into a dynamic cultural space designed for a 21st century city is truly a New York story,” says Barasch. “We know with input from the community and the city, we can make the Lowline a unique, inspiring space that everyone can enjoy.”

The 606, Chicago, Illinois by Collins Engineering, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Frances Whitehead

Chicago converted its abandoned Bloomingdale Rail Line into a 2.7 mile linear park called the 606 (named for the zip code prefix shared by everyone in the city.) The greenway connects four separate neighborhoods and includes a park and trail system with elevated trails for bikers, runners and walkers as well as event spaces and lots of greenery. The project was designed by the firm Frances Whitehead, which approached it as a ‘living work of art,’ demonstrating the vital role that arts play in the fabric of the city.

The Underline, Miami, Florida by James Corner Field Operations

Down in Miami, a stretch beneath an elevated rail line could become ‘The Underline,’ a new public park by James Corner Field Operations, one of the studios behind the High Line in NYC. The 10-mile-long park and urban trail would sit beneath the city’s MetroRail, following an existing bike path called the M-Path, but widening it and adding a parallel pedestrian path that winds through various ecosystems of native plants and habitats for birds and butterflies. Spaces for arts and recreation would be scattered along the way, like pop-up structures and a bike tune-up station.

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Rail To Trail 12 U S Park Projects Reclaiming Urban Infrastructure

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Outta Sight: 15 Closed & Abandoned Opticians

09 Oct

[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

The optics are all wrong when it comes to these closed and abandoned opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologist shops as anyone can clearly see.

There’s no optician like an Ophthalmic Optician, except of course when it’s closed and there’s, er, no Ophthalmic Optician no more. Such is the case in Castlehead, a declining district of West Paisley, Scotland, where it seems there are more steel-shuttered shops than stores still open for business. Flickr member David Cameron Paisley Photographer (dddoc1965) captured this sorry sight – or should that be “sorry site” – in early November of 2014.

Spec Easy

It takes some extra effort if you want to stand out between a Polish foods store and a tattoo parlor. Thus it’s not surprising this abandoned Bristol, England optician’s rainbow-hued sign is the last remaining sign of the store’s previous existence. Flickr member Graeme Dawes (HUNGRYGH0ST) snapped the store’s lurid yet eye-catching signage in May of 2016.

Innercity Vision

Touring downtown Detroit by bus and on foot isn’t such a great idea today and it wasn’t so wise back in 2004, when Flickr member Lucas (bilateral) did just that – and survived to show & tell the tale. We presume Drs. Phillip Aznik and Charles Benjamin also survived their exodus out of urban Detroit though their long-abandoned optometrist store (and its sign) didn’t quite make it.

Sol Survivor

Sol Moscot Opticians (founded 1915) was a Lower East Side landmark from 1935 to 2013, when the business moved to new digs on the opposite side of Delancey Street.

The old store sat sporadically abandoned for several years following the move, until demolition and construction on a 12-story mixed-use tower finally commenced in early 2017. We’re guessing the new development will be far less colorful which in hindsight (see what we did there?), would be a bit sad.

The Italian Jobless

While the late and lamented Sol Moscot store was, in its later stages, almost overwhelmed by a flood of (perfectly legal) graffiti, this unnamed abandoned optician in Rome, Italy has only the above painted panel to prove its previous occupation. Good thing that sole example is awesome! Flickr member Tobia Maschio (The Great Slug) snapped this brilliant work of anonymous street art on July 16th of 2010.

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Outta Sight 15 Closed Abandoned Opticians

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