What is the HOTTEST TREND in Design?
We have observed that the hottest trend in design is to utilize stair structures and turn them into design statements of individuality. In other words, any thing goes!
These are a few examples of steel modern floating stairs that we have been seeing and creating. The debate is out on which one is the best?
Which one gets your vote?
One trend that we have seen claim the scene in design is the modern industrial trend. The modern industrial design trend was inspired by old factories and industrial spaces and their conversion into urban living spaces. Exposed beams, weather bricks, and raw surfaces are key elements of this design trend. This trend, with its sleek surfaces, minimalistic bend and sustainability mindset, contains trending “rules” but also allows a great deal of variety in design as the slight variations are infinite. And by abolishing the typical closed stair, encased between 2 walls, and embracing the trending open concept, interior living spaces can become increasingly more spacious. This spatial approach transmits a very modern trend as well.
Artistic or sculptural stairs are definitely in vogue. This photo of a radial floating stair has a modern artistic feel to it. The main stringers were 8” diameter, sch. 80 pipe that had to be rolled and twisted to the correct radius, rise, and run. The railing was all stainless steel and tig welded. Due to the proximity to the beach, this curved stair was finished to CIW-2135-I specifications. The serious challenge was where the stair railing transitioned from angled to level, and vice versa, because the transition was being made on a curve. This floating stair really has a sculptural feel, especially from below. Treads on the curved stairs were done with IPE.
This cantilever stair’s main structure is a thick stainless beam buried in concrete. We welded 2” high and 6” wide stainless stair supports for the limestone cladding to mount to. This particular stair was a modern stair design utilizing traditional limestone material and cable railing. The limestone tread was kept 3 ½” from the wall to give the appearance of each tread floating in midair. (NOTE: 2” high stair tread support is marginally sufficient. We would recommend a minimum of 2 ½” high tread structure for rigidity.)
This was definitely a monumental stair where individuality was present. The client wanted the industrial look of I-beam steel stair stringers. Then the rustic stair look of chunky, Douglas fir treads. This stair had a contemporary iron railing design attached to the tread with the rustic look of square head lag screws. The caprail was a modern bronze profile in an antique tarnish finish. So this steel stringer switch back stairs allowed the client and designer to create their unique version of individuality in modern design.
This client wanted 2 curved floating glass stairs for a property on the shore. The main challenge of this steel stair was to have the inside and outside stringer level at every tread placement. The glass stair railing was angled and curved, and the polished stainless handrail brackets attached to the glass panels. Even the treads were triple laminated with a special process for clarity, but still had a texture on top for non-slip purposed. These steel stairs had two 1 ¼” x 12” saw tooth stringers.
These Modern steel stairs had a 4”x 10” stringer with steel risers and 3/8” thick tread plates. Treads were 2” thick oak. Contemporary railing was from ½” horizontal round rods with oak caprail.
This modern steel stair combined the support structure hidden inside the wall, plus the cathedral stair rigidity. The cathedral supports were 5/8” diameter steel rods powder-coated black. Treads were 3 ¼” thick white oak butcher block style.
This modern mono-stringer steel stair was 4” wide and 12” high. All wood treads and landings were from white oak, and with a special wood tread cap to hide the underside of steel tread plate. Stainless brackets were attached 2 per tread to support the glass rail. And wood handrail was attached through the holes in the glass rail. The handrail and steel stair stringer were black to provide phenomenal contrast.
These switch back steel stairs had 4” x 10” tubular stringers that were powder-coated white. The tread plates and risers were 3/8 thick. ½ tempered glass rail was attached to hidden steel structure that was countersunk into the wood tread. Brushed rectangular stainless handrail was attached to glass ailing. One unique feature of this project was that the fascia on the level was done in metal and powder-coated to match steel stair stringers.
This modern stair had dual stringers and white oak butcher block style treads. The railing was cable to further the modern stair affect. Part of the decor was exposed brick to tie in some rustic modern appeal.
This double helical stair was done instead of a spiral stair. A spiral stair can be a tight turn for some people as they navigate from floor to floor. This stair had inside and outside stringers with trim detail at the top and bottom. Plus, there was shadow box detail on outside stringer with rosette’s. This double helical stair was created from recycled aluminum content with a special durable powder-coat finish to withstand the harsh elements at the shore.
This spiral stair was the solution to a request for a cost-effective, but visually pleasing stair. The treads had a laser design done in metal and, to mitigate slippage, a clear anti-skid tape applied to each tread. This spiral stair had an exterior skirt to enhance the aesthetics and structural integrity.
This spiral stair had IPE treads custom created for the tread size. With the modern horizontal round bar railing with round caprail, plus the enhanced skins, this spiral stair makes a modern design statement. And provides access to the various levels of this spectacular shore home.
Another aspect that is very captivating is the incorporation of lighting into stair treads or railing. This shows our booth at the 2019 Architectural Digest show with lighted glass treads. This aspect brought a great deal of attention and awe to those who saw it!
So what do we see at the hottest trend in stair design? It is the combination of materials, patterns and proportions to express the individuality of the client or designer. Currently, we are working with an architect on a concept where the steel stair stringer is welded together from 4 individual pieces. The tread is not centered on the stringer but cantilevered off from one side. Plus each tread has it’s individual glass panel on both sides. And a rectangular flat bar is vertical on each side of tread to support caprail.
Another concept currently being worked on is an elliptical stair, which means it is round but with an ever changing radius. Both sides of stair have a ½” thick plate, 48” high that is both stringer and railing. The treads are white oak butcher block, floating between stringers and stopping 3 ½” short on each end. Treads are suspended by 1 ¼” polished stainless rods which are only visible in the small gap between ½” plate string and wood tread.
As a stair designer and fabricator, the modern or minimalistic stair trend has a significant hurdle. Designers and architects with conceptual ideas typically tend to underestimate sizing of structural members that are needed to satisfy structural or engineering requirements. Or, they tend to completely overlook the need for those important support members. We struggle to always be able to follow an edgy design concept in a stair design and be able to know the structure will actually be self-supporting. This dilemma is so common that we have coined the phrase “ Invisible rigidity” as the middle ground between what is desired and what is structurally secure. It is definitely a balancing act for a craftsman being sensitive to cutting edge design, and to provide stability and rigidity to satisfy code enforcement officer.
So, which was it? Which won the election?
The truth is, it doesn’t matter which way you voted; modern steel stringer stairs win the election! And your unique taste in individuality carries your vote and wins your election.