In business settings, first impressions are always crucial. A key element of Mies Architectuur’s design for the Dutch headquarters of Somfy was the three-stage staircase in the reception space – a strong focal-point which immediately conveys the technical efficiency and long-term durability of Somfy’s products. Somfy is the world’s leading manufacturer of specialized motors and control systems for retractable awnings, rolling shutters, interior shades, blinds, projection screens for residential and commercial use.

The detailed design solution, produced in close collaboration with EeStairs, conveyed these two qualities perfectly by combining a very slim-sectioned black powder-coated steel staircase structure with stair treads made using 140-year-old oak boards reclaimed from railway wagons.

The boards were originally very grimy and badly worn, so EeStairs planed and re-dimensioned them to bring out the true character of the oak. The dimensions of the treads, and their invisible fixings, were so accurate that the oak treads and the steel tread-supports appear to be single elements. This extreme attention to detail and build-quality has given a 19th century material new life in a 21st century steel staircase.