via Core77

Some of the best doses of creative inspiration come from the random phenomena that humans and nature create. This year we’ve seen a lot of strange things, a lot of beautiful things, a lot of clever things, and occasionally some that are all three. We’ll leave you to decide which is which. Starting with…

Karl Lagerfeld’s Sideways Library

All of the books in Karl Lagerfeld’s library are sideways. Also, he lives in two houses that are side-by-side. No, listen to me, you need to read this. It is important.

The World’s Most Beautiful Staircase is in Portugal

This book-filled location stores their tomes vertically, which would irritate Karl Lagerfeld. But he cannot say anything, because even his Lagerfeldian breath is taken away by the sight of the Livraria Lello bookstore’s gorgeous staircase.

Who Knew? New York City Has a Floating Prison

The library is probably not as nice in the Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center, a 47,000-ton, five-story barge that serves as New York City’s little-known floating jail.

Magnificent Fortress in Normandy Transforms Into an Island Every 18 Years

In Normandy is another place that served as a prison. And a monastery, and a stronghold, and probably a hospital and a discotheque because the Mont Saint-Michel is more than a thousand years old. And every 18 years, it becomes completely surrounded by water because erosion and the tides don’t give a f#@k.

Ants Building Rafts and Bridges to Escape Flooding

If there were ants around the Mont Saint-Michel, they’d be fine during the flooding because they can do, well, this.

I know, it’s kind of gross. But c’mon, give it up. Put your hands together.

No Bridge, No Problem: Drive Fast Enough and You Can Cross a River in a Car

Not an ant, but still need to cross a body of water? No problem. When the bridge to Mont Saint-Michel is out, you can still get there–all you have to do is hitch a ride with these Icelandic rescue maniacs who’ve learned to hydroplane across rivers!

Castles Designed with Anti-Ninja Flooring

Here’s another castle, this one in Japan. Where there used to be, like, lots of ninjas prowling around. So some 17th-Century builders figured out how to build an audible anti-ninja alarm system called uguisubari. Take that, ninjas.

A Frontier Cabin With Yard, Hidden on a Manhattan Rooftop

New York City has done a good job quelling their ninja problem, but that doesn’t mean some people still don’t like to live way up high, where ninjas have a long way to climb to. And maybe those people aspire to be western frontiersmen. So they build one of these.

BASE Jumping Maniacs Build Massive Human Spiderweb Slung 400 Feet Above Utah Desert

Meanwhile, this group of people also built their living room way up high, but it’s fairly minimal. Plenty of space to lounge but not so much furniture. That’s because these nutters built it all out of rope and netting, and 40 stories up to boot.

Microapartments Designed by Italian Prisoners

Something decidedly less airy are these tiny model apartments, designed using convicts of Italy’s maximum security Spoleto Prison as consultants. I suppose if you’re going to get shanked, it’s better it happen in a proper foyer.

How a Failed Super-Blimp Project Led to an Indoor Tropical Island Paradise in the Middle of Germany

This structure in Germany is a lot larger than those apartments above, because it’s an ex-blimp-hangar. So once it went derelict, the only logical thing to do was to renovate it into a tropical island paradise.

Japan’s Amazing Automated Restaurants

Japan may be fresh out of ninjas, and perhaps waiters will be the next to go. If these killer automated restaurants catch on, you servers might as well learn how to flick throwing stars and hurl smoke bombs.

Luxury Communal End-of-the-World Shelters

There are many design problems we as a society have yet to solve, and perhaps the most important is: How can we safely preserve all of the filthy rich people on this planet in the event of a major disaster? And not just preserve them, but keep them comfortable, well-fed and entertained? Have no fear–this company has designed some Armageddon-time shelters that will not only protect them from the bomb, they are the bomb. (Kids still use that phrase, right?)

Original Prints of Movies, Music and Photographs are Stored 22 Stories Underground in a Secret Pennsylvania Facility

It’s not just rich people that we can store deep underground. When you go really deep, like 22 stories deep, you’ve got enough earth between outside disasters and the inside vaults that you can protect Elton John’s original recordings, Bill Gates‘ photography collection, and hopefully a Panera Bread or two.

Harvesting Sea Salt Creates These Crazy Multicolored Ponds

You know why they call it "sea" salt? Because no one would buy "pond salt." But in order to mass-produce the stuff, you’ve got to pump it into manmade ponds. On the plus side, the process creates a lot of weird, interesting colors.

Holy Cow: This Amusement Park Ride is a Giant Rotational Molding Machine

Admit it: At some point you’ve been working the rotational molding machine and the engineer next to you just wouldn’t shut up, and you had fantasies about covering his mouth and shoving him inside the machine and turning it on. Well, you can realize your fantasy, kind of, here.

The Catzooka: A Bazooka that Can Clone and Launch Attack Cats

Due to our diligent investigative reporting, this year we managed to uncover one of DARPA’s best-kept secrets: They have been funneling funding into this most devious of superweapons.

You’re welcome.

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More from Core77’s 2015 Year in Review

15 of Your Favorite Posts from 2015

The Coming Age of Automobility and What It Means for Designers

10 Clever, Innovative or Bizarre Design Processes from 2015

Material News You Can Use

10 Brilliant and Beautiful Objects from Our ‚Designing Women‘ Series

12 Projects to Inspire Future Living

Design Entrepreneurs Were Killing it in 2015

The Year in Furniture Designs, Part 1: The Beautiful, the Innovative and the Unusual

The Year in Furniture Designs, Part 2: Design/Build Techniques and Learning from the Past and Present

15 Tools and Tool-Based Projects We Loved in 2015

8 New Types of Digital Fabrication Machines

The Best Product Design GIFs of 2015

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