Interview with designer Despina Souhlas (DS), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Scala Stair.

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Interview with Despina Souhlas at Wednesday 30th of September 2015: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
DS : The idea stemmed from the need to design a stair with a dual function, one was to provide a means of reaching the upper level, the second was to de-emphasize the low ceiling on the upper floor.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
DS : Our focus was to provide a simple open stair that maintained it's design integrity even as it changed in shape for the added purpose of becoming a gateway for the upper level.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
DS : In additional to this design, our hope is to use all our past experiences and met goals to inspire future designs/solutions needed for new projects.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
DS : We studied the existing conditions and determined the concept quickly. There were many generations of sketches to develop the overall design of the stair which lasted a few weeks, on and off.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
DS : We were asked to redesigned a space for an established client. When we first visited the existing space the ceiling height on the upper level was oppressively low in relation to the overall scale of the large room. We modified the ceiling within the height constraints on the upper level but also wanted to provide a transition into the space that offered it more prominence. This is why we developed this design/concept.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
DS : Frank Lloyd Wright and his application of the progression from a small entry space to emphasize the prominence of the living space was an immediate thought when considering the direction for this design. Wrights use of rhythms of vertical and horizontal planes also helped to influence the final design.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
DS : The second half of the stair envelopes the user and emphasized the transition into a larger more prominent space, this is why we call it the Gateway.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
DS : The most unique aspect of this design is the subtle change to the lower run tread design that transforms it into a tunnel for the upper run so the user experiences the same design in two ways, first stepping on it then stepping through it.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
DS : I collaborated with Architect and partner Nebojsa Stanic.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
DS : The most difficult challenge was maintaining a simple open stair while still providing an enclosure at the upper level.