Stairs have the simple purpose of allowing us to go up and down, but a lot of designers have put their imagination to work to make the trip something swell and worth a smile. Above is the main spiral staircase at Queen’s House, Greenwich, London, designed by Inigo Jones. It is one of the grand spirals in the staircase universe.

If you don’t have a Queen’s House, you might like this super-compact cadmium red spiral staircase for getting upstairs and back down without taking up any more space than a rubber plant. From EeStairs, it’s called the 1m2® Staircase

Another nice, tight spiral staircase–notice how the light comes through–at a house called Casa Farall by   Satelite Arquitectura

You can go straight up this time on an almost invisible, “floating” staircase. See here

I’d say those stone steps above are just about perfect–done for the Hanasaki house in Yokohama by MoNo, link here

All of the above collected at the magnificently single-minded site stairporn go here for more, much more

Heading outside for a minute, above stairs wrap around a fountain at Dumbarton Oaks, located in residential Georgetown, Washington DC. It is owned by Harvard University and big things have happened at Dumbarton, sometimes on the stairs.

Above is the lovely staircase inside the museum at Dumbarton Oaks. Both above from here

Back home, you’ve just had your corn flakes, and you want to go upstairs to put your feet up and relax. Oh look, there’s a nifty staircase right there.  By Albini Fontanot

Above, the sheet metal version–you can play a steel drum rendition of Stairway to Heaven on the way up.  Design by Sandrini.

But wood and glass, with light shafts above and below, sound better to me. Three above from trendir here

I’m told each stair above makes a different sound as you step on it. Probably fun the first time you do it.  It’s in Sweden and it apparently encourages people to climb the stairs instead of riding the escalator. Seen here

This is a curvaceous stair–looks like caramel, doesn’t it–I’ve actually walked upon. It’s in a store called Longchamp in New York, and it is the design of Thomas Heatherwick from England, always surprising, whose website is here

Another shot of Thomas Heatherwick’s caramel stairway that seems to flow down from the wall.

The suspended, wrought iron staircase above is in the Roche residence in France, designed by Architect: Atelier Archiplein, found here

Above, a wonderful expression of stairology from the artist Olafur Eliasson. Done for a plaza in Munich and seen here. Stairs are an opportunity for art, for performance, for fun.

An American (on the stairs) in Paris, Gene Kelly dancing on the steps of the Paris Opera , from Life Magazine, here

Above clip is actor James Cagney showing the right spirit of fun on a serious staircase. Sometimes you just want to get to the next level, no fuss, no fooling around. But now and then, when the opportunity presents itself, why not let those stairs be your stage.  Make a grand entrance—or exit.