Inspired by Candis Meredith’s staircase upgrade (above), as seen on Architectural Digest, our latest obsession is stairways with serious style cred.
When faced with the problem of upgrading a run-down carpeted staircase in the middle of one of her restoration projects, she knew she couldn’t just outright destroy it. ‘We love old houses – to us, nothing is too far gone to save,’ she told AD.
The rough state of the stairway’s risers made it impossible to just sand it down to its original wood, so instead she decided to use it to make a bold statement. Using a blown-up high-resolution image of a 16th-century Dutch flower painting, Candis turned a grotty old stairwell into a work of art.
Through painting and mosaics, other staircases around the world have been transformed just as effectively. We take a look at a few.
A Mosaic to the Stars
A community effort, the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps in San Francisco in the USA contain a sea-to-stars themed mosaic flowing up the 163-step stairway. Started by neighbourhood residents Jessie Audette and Alice Yee Xavier, the duo were later joined by artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher, who helped design the mosaic panels.
A Polychromatic Artwork
A Lebanese team of artists and designers known as Dihzahyners have taken to the streets (or stairs) of Beirut in an initiative called ‘Paint Up!’. Colouring 73 steps, the piece took 7 hours to complete, resulting in a burst of polychromatic imagery that brightens the urban landscape.
A tribute to artist Salvador Dalí
Made famous by the movie Rocky, the steps leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art were made to stand out even more in true Dalí style. During the institution’s major centennial retrospective exhibition of the surrealist master in 2005, a giant portrait of him was painted across the stairs. The effect is almost as daunting and surreal as Dalí’s artwork itself.
Stairs for Peace
A team of Syrian students named Jood, led by architecture academic Salmo Al-Batal, painted the longest public staircase in their town in Syria. The vibrant pattern creates a 3D arrangement of colours with a spirited atmosphere. Of the motivation behind the project, Al-Batal says, ‘Syria today is the land of blood not colours, so we are trying to make a little difference for love and peace in the war zone’.
Women are Heroes
Self-described ‘photograffeur’ (part graffiti artist, part photographer) and urban activist JR draws attention to the strength of women in informal communities with his intimate photographic portraits. Done in Kibera in Nairobi, and the Morro da Providência favela in Rio de Janeiro, the project involved covering informal settlements and public stairways with large-scale reproductions of photographs of women, allowing passersby to encounter them as large, central figures in their communities.