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Object Élevé

Studio Mieke Meijer’s latest project sees her installing a staircase/workspace hybrid in a private home.

By Cassandra Pizzey /asdf 20-03-2014

We know Mieke Meijer best for her Newspaper Wood, and Frameworks bookshelf for Dutch Invertuals. This time Meijer has created a beautifully graphic installation for a private residence.

Object Élevé or elevated object is a combination of a staircase and workspace created to connect two floors in the home of design professional Just Haasnoot in Wassenaar, the Netherlands. “We met Just during the Salone del Mobile in Milan where the Vakwerken-kast (Frameworks cabinet) was being presented,” says Meijer. 

“We were later invited to Wassenaar to think about a creative solution for a staircase. It’s a lot of fun to work with another designer and talk about the various options, yet still be given free reign. That’s exactly how this installation came about.”

The staircase and bureau comprise three parts made from matte-black coated steel tubing. The steps and other volumes are made from solid oak. This combination of matte black lines and lighter wood creates a beautifully graphic play of shapes and lines. 

Meijer explains that the desk only shares three steps with the construction, which is a lot more sturdy than it may seem. Thanks to it’s free-hanging nature the suspension has a lightness to it.

Indeed Meijer names the black-and-white photographs of Bernd and Hilla Becher as one of her inspirations for the project. The Bechers’ black and white photography is renowned for the systematic photo series of industrial buildings that closely resemble each other in function and design. Following her own interpretation, Meijer reconstructs these buildings into functional installations.

“I love the industrial feeling of these two materials together and view it as one of my trademarks,” says the designer.

The challenge was to combine storage with a functional staircase that was still in keeping with Meijer’s design aesthetic. The staircase serves to connect the top floor and attic in a relatively small space. Usually this would call for a steep set of stairs or even a ladder, not the most comfortable option to walk up. Instead Haasnoot suggested installing so-called Samba stairs: two sets of steps placed next to each other at alternating heights. 

“Samba refers to way you walk up and down the steps, swaying your hips as you go.”

We ask the designer whether the object is truly practical.

“I don’t see Object Élevé so much as a staircase but as an object or piece of furniture than you can step on. The desk itself isn’t meant as a permanent workspace – the residents have a separate room for that. The desk is more a place to catch up on some quick work or play the guitar.”

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