Among the poetic expressions found so abundantly in the French language, one finds “l’esprit de l’escalier” which translates literally as “the spirit of the staircase.” The idiom describes the regretful situation when one leaves a conversation and suddenly thinks of a comeback that is too late to deliver because one is already half way down the stairs on the way out. It is as if one is suddenly enlightened with wit and wisdom by unseen spirits that linger in the stair well and along the spindling guardrail.
Stairs can be quite a challenging design problem if one lets them be. Architects revel in stair designs and use them as an excuse to showcase a space and an eye for details. A stairway on it climb to fame would have been studied long and hard by its architect before becoming the object of admiration and center of focus for the space it adorns.
Stairs in smaller spaces might have to rely on smaller details rather than grand gestures but a good stair design always has a story behind its every turn and nuance. Just as the spirits that are purported to be dwelling in the stair well – that hollow cavity carved out of the building for the purpose of connecting floors – the stair story carries its user through the journey from one realm of the building to the next.
Some stairs go for the whimsicality of their geometry. Spiral stairs are notorious for their play with optical illusions and seemingly forced perspective when viewed from below.
No winding stairs takes better advantage of its winders than the stair at 31 Rue Cambon Paris. The multi faceted mirror that follows the winders reflects lights and the shimmers of the haute couture gowns get multiplied five fold as the Chanel models sashay down the steps.
Modern stairs stake their own merit when they are stripped down to the carriage, treads and risers. The challenge dwells in the details.
Hollywood does not think twice about using stairs for effect.
Even plainer stairs can scream quite loudly.
Stairs are perfect settings for drama and intense emotions. The simple task of walking up and down the stairs with little distraction allows one’s sense of surrounding to be more acute.
On the other hand, if Cary Grant is on the same set of ship stairs as you, you could only think of one thing…
Photos via: todayinart.com, imagekind.com, knowledgerush.com, dezeen.com smashinggaps.com, bluepearlinteriors.com, hookedonhouses.net, zachdevito.com, bunnywilliams.com, cooltownstudios.com, cotedetexas.blogspot, dvdbeaver.com, Suspicion, gohaceem.com, carygrant.net.