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Opening Inspiration

Rick Gallant, ESNT

Picture yourself walking on your favourite beach. The sand between your toes, the sound of waves lapping up on the shoreline, the warm sun beating down upon you and the gentle breeze of the ocean. It’s the perfect combination to ease your mind, relax and savour the moment. You no doubt agree that there is harmony, beauty and satisfaction here. 

Now picture yourself opening a door into a common commercial building. Do you have a similar experience? Most definitely not. Why? Well, you are not struck by beauty and harmony when you approach a common door opening (ok, well maybe a little satisfaction because it gets you into a building). In fact, you just want to quickly open the door and carry on with your business. You’re not alone. Ask anyone and doors just do not bring about great conversations and inspiration (at least not for the majority anyway). But stop and think about how vital doors are. They are often the first impression someone gets as they enter a building. They are like having a handshake with a building.  An introduction. A greeting. One of the first things you physically interact with before you enter the premises. They of course protect and secure buildings and are used hundreds of times a day (some thousands per day). Yes, they could be described as a means to an end but don’t they deserve more attention? I definitely think they do and there are so many ways to make them more attractive and innovative. 

In fact, let’s not call them doors anymore. Let’s call them openings. Because they are more complex than being called just doors. They encompass and bring together so much more. From door hardware to electronics, to access control, security, door controls, video surveillance and even AI. These components play an important role in enhancing the opening or diminishing it. 

But before we start to talk more about different components and hardware that typically go on an opening, let’s start with the physical door itself. 

Can you imagine walking up to a door like this (found in Burano, Italy):

image credit: John C. Hutchins

Pretty interesting right? You may not be struck with immediate beauty and harmony when you look at an opening like this but you certainly would react as you approach it and maybe even stop to marvel at the many colours/detail. Yes, the attention to detail and the time it took to paint these doors certainly deserve attention.

So, how can we enhance doors and make them more inspiring? Well, there are many possibilities. From colours, finish design and technology.  One example of technology is a screen on an entrance door that uses an LED display to advertise or provide vital information about the building or space you are about to enter.  Assa Abloy Entrance Systems and LG just announced a partnership to develop a transparent OLED automatic door which is pretty exciting to see. If this is any indication of a sign of things to come maybe we will see something similar on swinging man doors such as storefronts, hotel suite doors and schools. We have some progress to make until we see something like this more in the mainstream but it’s a start in the right direction. 

Another cool technology that will be incorporated into doors is Smart Glass. This technology changes from light to dark and back again with a flick of a switch and other types can change the tint of glass in response to the sun. This provides better control of daylight, energy and glare without the need for a blind or shade.

Another revolutionary idea and concept is the evolution door designed by artist Klemons Torggler. This type of door has no hinges and moves effortlessly to the side as if floating in space. In fact, because of the cool design, you could even classify this as being more than a door into its own category. It’s pretty neat to see the door move like it’s paper origami.

These are a few examples of bringing innovation to the physical door itself. It’s taking something traditional and adding inspiration. It’s a better introduction to a door than we commonly see today. 

First impressions are everything. Who knows, if we start to see some of these designs and technologies incorporated into openings in the future, we might find ourselves starting to talk about them more and provide us with some opening inspiration! 

In our next article, we will take a deep dive into door hardware and see how design and application play a critical role in creating safe, aesthetically pleasing and fully functional openings. Stay tuned.

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