One Last Thing: Shaking Up Design

Influenced by the beauty of hand-woven Shaker baskets, architects David Handlin and John Garrahan evoke a similar style in a Menemsha staircase. The circular design with bronze balusters and woven maple slats was a first for their Cambridge firm of Handlin, Garrahan, Zachos & Associates. Contracted by Holmes Hole Builders of Vineyard Haven, Michael Humphries Woodworking of Northfield built the intricate spiral stairway connecting three floors. “Most of the straight lattice work was able to be bent and woven on-site,” says Adin Gilman, the lead installer. The trickiest parts were the landings, where the wood needed to curve more like a boomerang. To make the slats more pliable, they steamed them – a technique inspired by the Shakers, who soaked thin strips of maple or cherry in hot water for their basketry, gracefully weaving function and form.