Something I saw a lot of in NYC was people using staircases for storage. Landlords and Fire Marshals don't care for the practice, but particularly if you lived on the top story of a walk-up, that last flight of stairs became a de facto free extra closet.
NYC isn't alone in this practice. Bronwen Rees and Bryony Wood, both product design students at the UK's Nottingham Trent University, seized on the stairs as fertile storage territory for a class assignment for Umbra. The brief was to design storage furniture "aimed at young professionals living in small, rented homes." Students were asked to "Consider mass manufacture, packaging and Umbra's style."
Rees and Wood subsequently designed this Stair Cubby:
"An open access cubby that fits over two steps for everyday storage. It can hold up to five pairs of shoes, books or other [knick-knacks] and comes flatpacked."
The duo designed the unit, which ships flatpacked, to be assembled with no tools. Tabs, slots and pegs are all cut from the same piece of plywood. An adjustable panel on the back slides up and down to accommodate staircases of different dimensions. Taking manufacture into consideration, the unit is designed to have all its pieces cut from 1/3 sheet of 4x8 plywood with minimal waste, so one sheet yields three units.
Rees and Wood also mocked up the packaging…
…as well as experimenting with Umbra's colorways used by retailer John Lewis & Partners:
Ultimately the pair "decided the wood worked best with a simple white."