"This staircase won Northern Design Awards 2016 for Best Product Design and Build It Awards 2016 for Best Joinery Product When we were planning the conversion of our shippon, a 400-year-old traditional Devon cob cowshed, we settled on an open plan layout with galleries at each end linked by a bridge. The look we wanted necessitated the stairs, bridge and balustrades setting the tone for the whole project. We wanted to preserve the uneven finish of the cob walls and maximize the impact of the few remaining original timbers without detriment to the fragile mud structure; the seemingly impossible combination of an installation in keeping with a rural cow shed with the wow factor of modern design. I love curves so wanted a helical staircase and for the sweep of the stairs to give a feeling of movement to an otherwise square building. As a cabinetmaker using native hard woods the quality of the carpentry involved and the choice and figure of the wood was very important to me. I built scale models, drew plans, and visited joiners, builders and forges, but couldn’t find anyone capable of constructing or even voicing what I had in mind. After many months of searching the internet I found a picture of a helical staircase I liked with a link to the BISCA website. On perusing their online gallery I was impressed by the quality and individuality of each installation, and the obvious appreciation BISCA had of the characteristics of the buildings and their occupants, allowing them to either blend their stairs in with the background or to make them an eye-catching feature. Most of the online examples appeared to be commercial properties or stately homes, but there were a few barn conversions featured, albeit much larger than our own project. Undeterred I sent off an exploratory email and found BISCA were very willing to help. We were soon supplied with a personalised portfolio of ideas and examples, along with information about costs and timescales. BISCA’s experience meant that this preliminary information was remarkably close to the final outcome, and as the project progressed every aspect was undertaken with courtesy and precision. I have high standards and very definite ideas of what I wanted, so when we were presented with the preliminary plans and drawings I was amazed to find myself loving every single aspect of them. Richard had understood my vision; he stood for some time in a dark, filthy cowshed and absorbed the feel and potential of the space. He dwelt on the characteristics of a beam that bounded the stairwell area and made its natural curve the starting point of his design. This crooked old beam, full of woodworm, studded with rusty ironwork and with patches of bark still adherent after hundreds of years, is now at the heart of a stunning helical staircase built from huge chunks of characterful English oak adorned with hand forged iron; the sympathetic juxtaposition of old and new is to our minds perfect. Thank you Bisca."