Thursday, 11 February 2016


Cannabis to Grand Pianos: 14 Radical Modern Retail Designs
By Steph,
Web Urbanist, 25 January 2016.

Whether selling recreational marijuana or grand pianos that cost almost as much as a house, this eclectic mix of retail stores really sets off their products with eye-popping interior design schemes featuring unusual architectural elements. Some of the shops might even be at risk of outshining what they sell with modern sculptural displays, dramatic hanging staircases and faux truck facades.

1. Stunning Steinway Piano Showroom


The stainless wires on the facade of the flagship Asian Steinway & Sons showroom mimics those inside the luxury pianos on display, only slightly obscuring them and the people who test them out within the beautifully illuminated space.


Designed by SALT, the shop’s main room mimics the living rooms of European manors.

2. Clear as Day: Crisp White at Optimist Eyewear Store


A perfectly clean, crisp white terrace that looks almost like a pristine glass cube from the street is tucked into a dingy alleyway in Greece as part of optical shop c_29 / optimist.


The airy space by 314 Architecture Studio modernizes the classic Greek aesthetic, with the products tucked into prismatic sculptural furniture.

3. Hawaiian Theme for Pineapple Express Cannabis Store


A creative firm called McBride company is anticipating the day when the sale of both medical and recreational marijuana becomes legal nationwide, and has designed a concept for a national chain of cannabis retails stores called Pineapple Express.


“The industry needs to provide a sales experience that reflects the evolving perception of marijuana,” says CEO Pat McBride. “The store design and atmosphere we created offers consumers a space that incorporates all the elements of great retail design, but addresses the unique display and service challenges faced by the cannabis retail industry. Our goal was to make this a true retail experience, meaning customers should feel completely comfortable and entertained, while also safe and secure. Some elements of cannabis shops today have the opposite effect, especially when the focal point is a long consultation counter where customers must wait to be helped.”

4. Greenhouse Effect at Mit Mat Mama in Barcelona


Shoppers feel like they’re walking into a tropical greenhouse as they enter the Mit Mat Mama maternity store in Barcelona by architect Rom├ín Izquierdo Bouldstridge.


Emphasizing a feeling of freshness, harmony and natural beauty, the store consists of a modular system of wooden ladders stretching up to the ceiling that are used to display plants. The scheme adds visual interest without blocking views of the entire space.

5. Fiberglass Cave at SND Fashion Store by 3GATTI


Vertical sheets of white fiberglass hang from the ceiling of SND Fashion Store in Chongqing, China to create an undulating canopy that utterly transforms the entire interior.


Shanghai-based studio 3GATTI gets a little catty in their explanation for the design, saying “We used a very thin white translucent fiberglass material because of its fire resistance and the way it reacted to light, thus creating a ceiling landscape that would be a spectacular source of beauty and emptiness; perfect for every fashion victim.”

6. Modular Shelf System for Skechers Showroom

A dynamic display system of hundreds of mini wooden shelves can either jut out or lay flat against the wall to display select numbers of Skechers sneakers in this retail interior by Zemberek Design.


Continuing from a solid white wall onto a metal grate, the installation offers varying degrees of opacity and virtually limitless display options.

7. CNC-Cut Wooden Walls for FEIT Shoes


Within this New York shoe store, a floor-to-ceiling layering of birch plywood becomes a carved landscape as each individual sheet is CNC cut, hand-sanded and assembled into modules to offer benches, shelves and niches with built-in LED lighting.


Designer Jordan Maisie pairs a natural material with digital technology for a result that’s solid and translucent all at once.

8. Light-Diffusing Lattice for Innisfree


SOFTLab suspends a curvilinear system of lattice beneath a translucent glass greenhouse roof for the Innisfree flagship store in Seoul. The visual effect calls to mind gardens and growing systems, a perfect pairing for the all-natural Korean cosmetics brand.


Attached to the wooden lattice system are petal-like elements made from recycled paper reclaimed from Innisfree packaging.

9. Sunken Lounge Areas at Curvilinear R&D Studio


Customers can really get cosy in Vigoss R&D Studio, a curvaceous retail location for a textile company in Turkey by Zemberek Design. The entire space is lined with concrete, with walking and sitting surfaces clad in wood and lounge spaces sunken beneath the ground level.


In addition to offering seating with prime views of the merchandise, these sunken areas also contain hidden storage space for additional product.

10. Plywood Planes by PRODUCE


Two complementary retail spaces seamlessly blend into each other in this storefront within the School of the Arts building in Singapore.


Design studio PRODUCE created plywood volumes that give the shops the feel of a treehouse, with the sweets shop and home goods retailer separated by an ‘internal street.’

11. Ice Cream ’Truck’ in Korea


Retaining the charm of an ice cream truck in a stationary location might not be easy, but Betwin Space Design makes sure that the visual effect comes across from every vantage point of the corner storefront in Seoul.


Created for an ice cream shop called Remicone, the design features a faceted truck facade and a sterile white interior complementing the brand’s use of laboratory glassware as serving containers.

12. Reflective Staircase at St. Laurent by Hedi Slimane


Multiplied against a mirrored wall and standing starkly against a white ceiling and marble floor, the reflective staircase at the center of Hedi Slimane’s design for the Saint Laurent store in Milan doesn’t fail to catch the eye.


Everything about the glossy space, from the transparent display units to the cantilevered seating, says ‘polish’ and ‘luxury.’

13. Inviting Rice Store in Tokyo


Almost completely open to the street, this rice shop by Schemata Architects is part of a scheme to revitalize a formerly bustling shopping district in Tokyo.


The design encourages foot traffic and lingering outside with a sidewalk-facing counter and open-air display of rices and vinegars.

14. Floating Staircase at Bazar Noir


Lined in pale wood, the floating staircase descending from the second level of a shop called Bazar Noir almost seems like a portal to another dimension, so visually distinct it is from the darkened matte surfaces of the main floor.


Design firm Hidden Fortress designed a flexible layout that can be adapted to constantly changing exhibits, the heavy use of black conforming to the shop’s brand identity.

Top image: Asian Steinway & Sons Showroom. Credit: SALT.

[Source: Web Urbanist. Edited. Some links added.]


5 Totally Bizarre Ways to Put Out a Candle
By Casey Chan,
Sploid, 10 February 2016.

How do you put a candle? It’s simple, just blow it out. Easy enough, right? But so not interesting. The always inquisitive Physics Girl shows us five weird and wacky ways to kill the flame from a candle and each are more interesting than the next. You could use a copper coil or a rounded obstacle or an open glass cap or pouring CO2 onto it or even just freeze the flame with liquid nitrogen.

[Source: Sploid.]


Gamification: How to Win at Work
By Frank Moraes,
Who Is Hosting This, 9 February 2016.

Everyone wants work to be fun. Even your boss or client or customer would rather that you enjoy your work. No one wants to be around unhappy people, regardless of how productive they are.

But what if you could change your business so that workers got more done because they were having fun?

Enter the world of gamification.

It may just sound like the newest business buzzword, but gamification allows businesses to take standard parts of the work day and turn them into games. This makes for happier, more engaged workers. And that leads to greater quality and higher productivity - a classic win-win situation.

You might think that this is the kind of thing that only high tech companies could do. But that’s not true. In fact, in its most fundamental form, gamification has long been part of the way businesses are run. Sales bonuses are a kind of game. They aren’t usually presented that way, of course. But sometimes they are, complete with leader boards and different “prize” levels.

A good example of how gamification is being used by a regular company can be seen at the automotive retailer Pep Boys. They have a program called Axonify where employees play a quiz game that deals with inventory management and accident prevention. When employees do well on the game, they can win prizes. When they don’t, they get a quick refresher on the issues being quizzed.

Big companies like Pep Boys aren’t investing resources into gamification because it is a fad; they are investing in it because it works. One of the biggest problems facing companies is the lack of employee engagement. And a surprisingly large number of workers are actively disengaged. These workers often do great harm to company morale and ultimate the bottom line.

Of course, gamification isn’t as simple as deciding that you are going to have a “fun” workplace. In the following infographic, we look at all aspects of gamification: how companies are using it, what it could do for your company, and how you can implement your own system. You have only grumpy employees and low productivity to lose.

Achievement Unlocked: How to Win at Work With Gamification

Infographic Sources:
2. Sun Life Financial Taps Gamification on Quest to Encourage Canadians to Save for Retirement
3. Game on: could gamification help business change behaviour?
4. Sustainable Silicon Valley
5. Top 25 Best Examples of Gamification in Business
6. How Top Brands Are Using Gamification To Change Their Game
7. Why Starbucks Loyalty Program Is So Successful
8. Mobile Showcase
9. My Ford Mobile
10. MyFord Mobile Discussions
11. NTT Data: Who We Are
12. Gamification In Leadership Development: How Companies Use Gaming To Build Their Leader Pipeline
13. The Pros and Cons of a Gamified Work Culture
14. Majority of U.S. Employees Not Engaged Despite Gains in 2014
15. 3 Types of Employees: How to Spot the Silent Killer
16. Winning the Talent Game: How Gamification Is Impacting Business and HR
17. Kill Your Awful Annual Reviews — It’s Time To Give Employees ‘Hyperfeedback’
18. How LiveOps reduced onboarding time for call center agents from weeks to hours
19. How Deloitte Made Learning a Game
20. The Case for Getting Employees to Play Games at Work
21. How To Gamify Your Business In 5 Simple Steps

[Post Source: Who Is Hosting This.]

Wednesday, 10 February 2016


10 Secret CIA Prisons You Do Not Want To Visit
By Tim Bissell,
Listverse, 10 February 2016.

The US Central Intelligence Agency has, according to multiple investigative reports from both mainstream media outlets and human rights organizations, operated numerous “black sites” across the world. These locations, according to the reports, are secret prisons used to house “ghost prisoners.” Those sent to these places are held captive without being charged with any crime and are not allowed any form of legal defense.

Ghost prisoners are subject to what the CIA calls “enhanced interrogation tactics”; most others call it torture. The CIA and their operatives’ methods allegedly include waterboarding, sleep deprivation, humiliation, physical beatings, electric shocks, and worse.

These secret prisons, dotted all over the world, might just be the most terrifying places on Earth.

10. Diego Garcia (Indian Ocean)

Photo via Wikimedia

Diego Garcia is an atoll in the Indian Ocean located around 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) south of India and 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) east of Tanzania. The locale is claimed by the United Kingdom as part of their British Indian Ocean Territory.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the UK deported the native people of the atoll to Mauritius and the Seychelles in order to allow the United States to construct a large naval and military base now known as Camp Thunder Cove. The installation is currently home to roughly 4,000 military personnel and independent contractors.

Although the UK has long claimed that “ghost prisoners” haven’t been held at Diego Garcia, in a 2015 interview with Vice News, Lawrence Wilkerson (US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s former chief of staff) revealed that terrorism suspects were abducted and brought to the ocean base for special interrogations. Wilkerson stated that this was done by the CIA in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

9. Temara Interrogation Centre (Morocco)


The Temara Interrogation Centre can be found in a forest 14 kilometres (9 mi) outside of Rabat, Morocco. The facility is operated by a Moroccan government unit known as the Directorate for the Surveillance of the Territory (DST).

In 2003, Morocco was examined by the UN Committee against Torture. The UN considered evidence presented by the Moroccan government as well as by Amnesty International. Their findings were that, although human rights had generally improved in Morocco over recent years, there was also an increase in reported torture cases in the North African nation.

In 2004, Amnesty International alleged that the DST is a recurrent and flagrant abuser of human rights and that many of these offenses have occurred at Temara. Amnesty International’s report stated that Moroccan interrogators had repeatedly beaten, humiliated, electrocuted, burned, and waterboarded inmates at Temara. The alleged goal of the DST torturers was to extract confessions or information from detainees or to have them sign or thumbprint statements (the content of which the detainee may have no knowledge).

In 2010, the Associated Press reported that several US officials had confirmed that the facility was operated by Moroccans but was financed by the CIA. Morocco officially denies that the facility exists.

8. Mihail Kogalniceanu Airport (Romania)

Photo credit: Crispas

Mihail Kogalniceanu Airport is the main airport for Romania’s southern Dobrogea region, located just a stone’s throw away from popular tourist resorts on the Black Sea coast. In 2015, the airport managed 2,227 flights involving over 63,000 passengers. However, some have alleged that a number of these flights were used to traffic ghost prisoners to and from a secret prison on the airport’s premises.

Romania claims that Mihail Kogalniceanu Airport is only used as a transfer point for CIA prisoners and not for actual detainment or interrogations. However, in 2008, USA Today quoted an unnamed Romanian official who claimed that the military portion of the airport contained three buildings which were strictly off-limits to Romanian officials but were frequented by US agents.

More evidence supporting the airport’s role in CIA detentions arose in 2010 when Der Spiegel reported that the Swiss intelligence agency’s Onyx satellite surveillance system had intercepted a fax between an Egyptian foreign minister and his ambassador in London. The communique described the detention of 23 Iraqi and Afghan captives at the airport.

7. Detention Site Green (Thailand)


Thailand denies the existence of any black sites in its territory, despite multiple reports describing the mysterious Detention Site Green and hinting that it may be located just outside of Bangkok or somewhere in the northern province of Udon Thani.

According to The Guardian, in 2009, the CIA themselves confirmed that they had destroyed 92 tapes of interviews with terror suspects which were filmed somewhere in Thailand. The report also claimed that Site Green was somewhat of an experiment, where the CIA honed their waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques, which would later be used at the larger European sites which the agency would go on to construct.

One of the CIA’s guinea pigs was Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi national captured in Pakistan in 2002. Zubaydah was reportedly waterboarded so severely that bubbles would rise out of his open mouth. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bombings, was also supposedly held at Site Green. Reports state that he, too, was waterboarded, in addition to being threatened with sodomy.

6. Camp Lemonnier (Djibouti)

Photo credit: Eduard Onyshchenko

Djibouti is a highly strategic location for the US military, primarily due to its close proximity to terrorist hot zones such as Somalia and Yemen as well as the pirate-filled Gulf of Aden. Located at Djibouti’s Ambouli International Airport is Camp Lemonnier, a US Naval Expeditionary Base. Officially, it is home to the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, a US combat unit that was mobilized during Operation Enduring Freedom, aka The War on Terror.

Unofficially, according to a 2014 report from Al Jazeera America, Djibouti’s Camp Lemonnier is also a CIA black site that saw dozens of suspects secretly detained, interrogated, and tortured. The report also stated that the site had been used as recently as 2012 by the Obama administration, despite President Obama signing an executive order in 2009 banning the use of black sites by the CIA.

In 2015, The Intercept revealed aerial shots of Camp Lemonnier showing how the base, which is a crucial take-off point for Reaper and Predator drones, has been steadily expanding.

5. Antaviliai (Lithuania)


Less than 16 kilometres (10 mi) from the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius is a mysterious former riding school in the village of Antaviliai. According to The Washington Post, the school was converted into a jail by the CIA in 2004. The report continued to state that the site was used to interrogate Al-Qaeda suspects who had been captured in Afghanistan.

The property was purchased in 2004 by Elite LLC, a company registered in Washington, DC. Locals described seeing US contractors digging around the property, creating what they assumed was an underground complex beneath the main building. In 2009, unnamed former intelligence agents told ABC News that the site at Antaviliai was operational for over a year and that during that time, it held at least eight suspected terrorists within its walls. In 2007, Elite LLC sold the property to the Lithuanian government and then disappeared. Since then, the site has been used to train Lithuania’s state security service.

4. USS Ashland (Various Locations)

Photo via Wikimedia

In 2008, The Guardian reported that human rights organization Reprieve, which claimed that the US has admitted to holding at least 26,000 people in secret prisons, had discovered that the US was operating a fleet of “floating prisons” that span the globe. Reprieve’s research pointed to at least 17 US warships being used as secret CIA black sites.

Among those ships was the USS Ashland, a Whidbey Island–class dock landing ship that weighs 16,000 tons and measures 186 meters (610 ft) in length. The Ashland houses 500 US Marines on-board. Reprieve believes that the ship is connected to a series of abductions carried out by Somali, Kenyan, and Ethiopian forces around 2007. The Guardian also stated that the United States previously admitted that the USS Bataan and the USS Peleliu were also used as prison ships between 2001 and 2002.

John Walker Lindh, aka The American Taliban, is one of the most well-known detainees to sail on the United States’ secret prison fleet.

3. Stare Kiejkuty (Poland)


Stare Kiejkuty is a restricted military area in northeastern Poland that was used as a Nazi SS outpost during World War II. In the 1970s, the area was used by Polish intelligence officers, despite maps naming the site as a holiday resort.

In 2005, a Polish intelligence source revealed to the BBC that Stare Kiejkuty’s facilities were used by the CIA to detain and interrogate “high-value detainees.” The BBC report stated that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the so-called architect of the 9/11 attacks, had been interrogated in Poland, among other places.

In 2014, former Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski confirmed that he had made agreements with the United States to allow the CIA to operate black sites in Poland during his time in office between 1995 and 2005. Kwasniewski stated that a US memorandum informed him that detainees would be treated as prisoners of war and would be afforded the internationally recognized rights that come with such a designation. The sources who spoke to the BBC stated that the Polish president likely had no idea what was really going on at the Stare Kiejkuty base.

2. The Salt Pit (Afghanistan)


The Salt Pit, also known as Cobalt, is a former brick factory located north of Kabul in Afghanistan. In 2002, the site was converted into a detainee centre by the CIA, which earmarked more than US$200,000 for its construction.

In 2012, The Daily Beast described the Salt Pit as “the CIA’s Sadistic Dungeon” in an article that examined a high-profile death which occurred at the site. On November 20, 2002, Gul Rahman died of hypothermia after being beaten, stripped naked, and chained to the floor during a freezing cold night.

In 2014, the US government declassified a US Senate Report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. That report stated that no CIA officers were ever charged with crimes relating to the death of Rahman. Instead, five months after his death, the lead CIA officer who ordered Rahman be chained up was given a US$2,500 bonus for “consistently superior work.”

Of the 119 detainees identified in the US Senate Report on torture, nearly half were detained at the Salt Pit.

1. Camp Eagle (Bosnia And Herzegovina)


In 2005, two Bosnian men, Nihad Karsic and Almin Harbeus, spoke to Bosnia’s public television broadcaster BHTV about their ordeals at Camp Eagle, near Tuzla, close to the Bosnian border with Serbia. Both men stated that they were violently abducted by Bosnian soldiers, who then accused them of being terrorists.

At Camp Eagle, a former Yugoslavian air base, the pair claimed that they were beaten and harassed by soldiers before being held and questioned by Americans in civilian clothing. The men said that they were eventually released and given US$500 in compensation. They also said that they were threatened and told not to speak publicly about what had happened to them.

According to the BBC, in 2006, a Swiss investigation into CIA black sites named Bosnia as one of the many countries which had partnered with the CIA to secretly detain suspected terrorists, along with Italy, Sweden, and Macedonia. That same report cited Spain, Turkey, Germany, and Cyprus as “staging posts” and the UK, Portugal, Ireland, and Greece as “stop-off points” for detainees being flown to black sites such as Camp Eagle.

Top image: Salt Pit, the CIA black site in Afghanistan. Credit: Trevor Paglen/Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: Listverse. Edited. Top image added.]