The staircase, seen here in Shanghai, was the creation of nine people: David Andreini, Karl Backus, Jon F. Cooksey, Tim Eliassen, Scott David hazard, Holger Krueger, Peter Lenk, James O'Callaghan and Xhang Yutang. [Image: Flickr user Robert S. Donovan]

The metal joints are attached to the glass sheets using a special laminating process. With so many people climbing and descending the stairs, stability is needed. Perhaps those iOS 7 users lamenting the sick-making effects of the new OS should petition Apple to use the same process on its next upgrade. [Image: Flickr user Pablo Taking Pictures]

A view up to the vast roof which echoes the clean lines of the inner cylinder. It is held up by glass fins which are attached to the smaller glass structure. The store is surrounded by Shanghai's imposing skyscrapers, but still manages to hold its own. [Image: Flickr user Jon Skilling]

As well as their decorative effect, these vast sheets of curved glass strengthen the interior. The patent for glass laminate support structure was partly held by Steve Jobs, whose vision encompassed everything Apple did in his lifetime, and which continues to influence the firm. [Image: Flickr user Pablo Taking Pictures]

Is this design only going to be seen in Shanghai? Of course not! Expect variations on the style all over the world--until Apple's next architectural patent comes along. Perhaps some will come from the firm's new "spaceship" campus, whose arrival is imminent. [Image: Flickr user FHKE]

Apple Wins Another Architectural Patent For Its Glass Cylinder Staircase

Fins, curved sheets of glass, complicated lamination processes. It's not just a staircase, it's an Apple Store staircase.

Apple's rather magnificent staircase in its Shanghai store has won a patent. The cylindrical design, made from curved glass slabs, is comprised of a glass tube and has stairs that snake around. It looks like something that James T. Kirk might have used when he wanted to get changed after a hard day on the bridge of the U.S.S.S. Enterprise. It is beautiful.

It's not the first time Apple has trademarked something to do with its retail spaces--pardon me, "the environment we inhabit." In fact, the whole look of the store, conceived by Steve Jobs, with its blond wood, glass storefront, and amazing Jobsian glass staircase, is now covered by the USPTO. What architectural patents will the firm's upcoming new "spaceship" campus throw up? We should prepare to be amazed and delighted.

[Image: Flickr user Jon Skilling]

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13 Comments

  • David J Gill

    This superficial article misses all the fundemantals. Steve Jobs and Captain kirk get a mention, but who designed the staircase? Apple's in house engineers or architects. (If they have in house A+E.) Consulting architects and engineers? (Most likely.)

    What about the stair is even patentable? Certainl, any property owner can build a glass spiral staircase and any architect or engineer can design one. A glass spiral staircase is not patentable...it must be a particular part used to construct it.

  • CGilroy

    I've been to a few stores just to examine the staircases (Being a staircase designer/joiner, not some sadsack might I add!) and they truly are one the great engineering feats of recent times. I'm just a bit gutted their pateneted, I don't see Apple happily sharing the design for sometime and diluting one of their stores great selling points. I'd love to see the design spread more.

  • scrumble

    This is an example of why bloggers shouldn't be allowed to call themselves journalists. Have Apple patented this staircase design or trademarked it as part of their store design? There's a vast difference between the two

  • David J Gill

    Hey man, great comment; great insight!

    You really call 'em the way you see 'em. Some people just aren't mature enough or just don't know how to participate in a dialogue, or discussion. They don't know how to differentiate valuable contributions to a discussion from those that aren't so valuable.

    But you've got it down! You set a good example for the kids out there who don't know how to write good comments yet. Thanks!

  • Scottward

    The problem with branding that implies perfection is that perfection is damn near impossible to achieve. While your wife's experience was dreadful, I wonder what her expectation would have been in a store with far less brand recognition? How she felt damaged the Apple brand from her perspective. And perhaps Apple will "think different" about the integration of product and customer experience in the future. At least we can hope.

  • Ken

    Very cool!!! It's a shame Apple's is starting to do the smoke and mirrors of all American companies. Nice packaging but no substance. Let me explain that I feel their customer service is really starting to decline. In the past I've always loved Apple's support but yesterday my wife had a terrible experience at the Apple Store at the Mall of Georgia. The Apple Genius that was helping her kept disappearing in the back for 20 and 30 minutes at a time.  When she asked to speak to the manager she had to wait over 10 minutes for someone to show up.  She complained to the manager that she had been there close to three hours and most of that time was spent waiting for her Genius to return. All the manager had to say was that Genius should not have been out front helping. What? No I'm sorry! No how can I help! Just put the blame on the employee! No let me get someone to help you right away! Very Sad! Three hours got her a replacement phone for the phone that had a defective wifi antenna. When the Genius restored her phone he managed to lose all of her apps on the phone and as well as the ones backed up on her laptop. She spent several hours last night reinstalling the apps she used most. Oh yeah nice stairs Apple.