Dezeen Magazine

Portal installation by Snøhetta and Erik Jørgensen Møbelfabrik

Snøhetta creates illusionary stairway to heaven for Wallpaper Handmade show

A wood and leather ladder appears to stretch endlessly upwards and downwards in this Milan design week installation, created by a team featuring architecture firm Snøhetta.

Forming part of Wallpaper magazine's Holy Handmade exhibition, Portal is the result of a collaboration between Snøhetta, Brooklyn design studio Everything Elevated and Danish upholsterer Erik Jørgensen Møbelfabrik.

Portal installation by Snøhetta and Erik Jørgensen Møbelfabrik

The free-standing ladder, sandwiched between two carefully positioned round mirror-clad podiums, gives the illusion of stretching endlessly upwards and downwards.

It was designed as a physical expression of a spiritual experience.

Portal installation by Snøhetta and Erik Jørgensen Møbelfabrik

Stian Rossi, architect at Snøhetta, explained: "The installation Portal is the result of a holistic approach combined with a variety of creative disciplines that are blended together, resulting in a one-of-a-kind installation."

"The installation has been carefully curated as a monolithic piece that invites the spectator to observe it from different perspectives," he continued, "from a distance in the architectural space of Santa Teresa Mediatheque in Milan to the closest detail of the high-quality leather stitching."

Portal installation by Snøhetta and Erik Jørgensen Møbelfabrik

Portal is made from solid oak wood that has been stained black, and upholstered with Erik Jørgensen Møbelfabrik's Cohiba leather.

"It was important to us that we created something seemingly simple," added Niels Jørgensen, CEO of Erik Jørgensen Møbelfabrik.

"However, when you look close, it is in fact a very detailed installation with leather and stitching that beautifully show classic Erik Jørgensen Møbelfabrik techniques."

Portal installation by Snøhetta and Erik Jørgensen Møbelfabrik

Each year, Wallpaper magazine's Handmade project pairs design talent with manufacturers from across the globe to create a new design object based around a theme.

Now in its eighth year, the project's 2017 theme was inspired by the exhibition's new location at Mediateca Santa Teresa - a deconsecrated church in Milan's Brera district.

With the full name Holy Handmade! A Temple of Divine Design, the exhibition saw designers create pieces based around the theme of worship and the divine.

Portal installation by Snøhetta and Erik Jørgensen Møbelfabrik

Other pieces in the exhibition included a sacred veil by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, a cardboard sarcophagus by Tom Dixon and a list of 10 commandments by Yves Béhar.

Snøhetta, which ranked at number 37 in the inaugural Dezeen Hot List, has also recently designed a pair of grand stone arches for a shipping tunnel on Norway's coast, pared-back offices for Slack in Lower Manhattan and a memorial arch for South African anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu.

Elsewhere at Milan design week, Italian metal brand De Castelli worked with seven female designers to create a furniture collection with "strong emotional allure", Jaime Hayon created surreal sketches for Nanimarquina's 30th anniversary rugs, and Snarkitecture marked the 80th anniversary of Italian accessories brand Valextra with a pop-up store filled with Clouds of folded fabric.