StairStalk by Atmos

a staircase for HIDE at 85 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London 

Atmos were commissioned to design and deliver the exuberant centrepiece staircase that weaves between the 3 levels of experience at HIDE – A Hedonism Wines and Michelin-starred super-chef Ollie Dabbous concept launched earlier this month with a 3-storey restaurant. 

StairStalk atmos

The stair’s design creates a plant-like structure that grows like an irrepressible life-force from beneath, bursting from the shadows of the basement towards the daylight above.

It twists upwards, spiralling energetically like a corkscrew, steps unfurling seamlessly from the structural stem like leaves, while further branches similarly delaminate to form a delicate wavy balustrade guiding the guests carefully upwards.

StairStalk atmos

“StairStalk” finally unfurls at the 1st floor level, as if reuniting with its vast family of arboreal brethren in Green Park opposite – nestling just beyond the full-height panoramic glazing fronting Piccadilly.

StairStalk atmos

Like a wild plant pulsing insistently upwards and outwards between the comparatively restrained geometry of its surrounding architecture, it at last comes to rest once its conveyancing role is accomplished, merging gently into the walls that contain it.

Its entire surface is made of European Oak, like a green plant grown woody with age, thus naturalising amidst the restaurant’s family of wider oak furniture.

StairStalk atmos

The main structure was layered from glued slices of thin oak veneer, laid and laminated together against curved moulds and then hand-sanded into shape to form an elaborately-curving timber structure whose visible grain magically follows its path.

This structure then encapsulates the thicker slabs of more familiar wide- oak floorboards forming the upper and lower surface of each tread, thus echoing the fields of parallel oak floorboards at the uppermost treads of each flight.

The evolving design took its cue from the natural palette, playful imagination, and powerful aesthetic developed by both the interior designer and the project client.

This love of nature is further echoed in Ollie Dabbous’s showcasing of natural ingredients; his reinvention of familiar vegetables; even the stunning culinary presentation of delicately curling leaves and petals and other botanicals.

StairStalk atmos

Atmos add “Another crucial influence was more mystical and whimsical and relates to the perceived magic that underpins all nature – especially the world of childhood fairy-tales, in whose fertile soils the stair first took root”.

StairStalk atmos

The lines and shapes build on Atmos’s fascination for ergonomics, and the constraints and habits of the human body – pinching or stretching the sizes of treads to reflect the range of possible human movements across them.

The undulating plan pattern of the tread nosings merge multiple implicit pathways, with the intrepid and rushed able to fast-track their progress by tracking more quickly across steeper, shorter distances between more pinched contours, while the leisurely can traverse longer, shallower valley routes at a much slower pace.

StairStalk atmos

The balustrade stems bifurcate from their lower structural stringer to spread and give transparency to this restraining veil, before they re-converge to form a thick multi-fibred upper stem, which is then richly sculpted to follow the path of the human hand that grips it, as if softly gouged by thumb and fingers either side.

StairStalk atmos

Rose Murray, founder of These White Walls (the concept and interior designer for the wider restaurant), describes how the restaurant centres on “the theme of Dwelling”, and how “the dual narratives of the Hide-as-Home and the Hide-as-Hidden have been intertwined spatially throughout the interior; [how] the interior scheme is a re-imagining of the familiar.” Much of her work entailed innovative commissioning of artists to create new spatial works for the design of the interior, infusing it with added cultural depth.

Atmos’s contribution is partly a simple staircase – a means to move upwards from A to Z – but partly also its complete reinvention, with all components magically merging; verticals melting into horizontals; a handrail swooping downwards and deforming to suddenly become the sole thing supporting you beneath your feet; the entirety an opportunity to explore new ways of physically inhabiting space.

StairStalk atmos

The stair celebrates movement, energy, and a kind of graceful restlessness – a companion piece to what Murray describes as the wider restaurant’s “whole new expression of inhabited space, where the uncanny of the everyday that surrounds us is continually revealed.”


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