A Sculptural Staircase for Cornwall's Cultural Capital
The Rogers’ Stairs is a gently provocative piece of design by woodwright, Alex Accleton. "It was," Alex says, "an attempt to break with convention. Our clients' home is a Victorian granite farmhouse in St Ives that had undergone complete renovation. Ordinarily, custom in a central stairwell of modest size would call for something more obvious." But it isn't in Alex's nature to accept the ordinary or the obvious. Instead, his work is informed by place, people and purpose.
In the case of the Rogers' home, the owners' contemporary interior style contrasted strikingly with the building's traditional Cornish aesthetic. "The stairs," says Alex, "needed to express this meeting of old and new and to provide a pleasing transition."
At the heart of the brief were three key considerations: the marriage of traditional and contemporary forms, the use of long-lasting sustainable materials, and the clients' desire for quiet impact.
Alex's response is a strong sculptural form that gives shape to the central stair spine. "A tipping of the hat, if you will, to the town's art heritage." Says Alex, alluding to Barbara Hepworth and her contemporary modernists who found a home in the pure light and clement climate of Cornwall's cultural capital in the mid-twentieth
century. It is testament to the vitality of the modernist aesthetic, clearly present in the architectural direction of the town's Tate art gallery, that nearly a hundred years after Hepworth made her first sculpture the style still epitomises the new.
Accenting the organic form of the stair case is a ribbon of steel, a handrail that appears to float as it follows the curve of the stair, pausing only to swan-neck before it continues to flow, offering guidance to the hand.
Alex's reply to the challenge of bridging St Ives' rural and modernist traditions is a confident embodiment form and function.
Cornish oak, birch plywood, tulipwood, steel
Alex Accleton: Website
Metalwork: Gekko Design
Photography: Matty Snelling