Are you touched by the thing that you touch the most?

The door handle is the most touched thing in your home or workplace

It is estimated that on average we touch the handles in our homes and workplaces up to one million times over the life of the product. Despite evidence that consumers are better informed than ever before, door and cabinet hardware is often not given the needed consideration.

Why is it that the thing we touch the most, touches us the least?

The psychology is that door and cabinet handles are taken for granted and have been for thousands of years. Just as our dependence on everyday essentials, such as a good water supply or the ready availability of fresh food is often taken for granted. However, the subconscious is affected by the ‘quality’ of often used yet commonly regarded items. This in turn subtly affects our mood and inner satisfaction.

How often are you subconsciously annoyed by stiff handles, tarnished brass, broken privacy snibs and sagging handles but just accept this as part of everyday life? If you are one of the millions in this situation you can break out of the mould and become enlightened. Never underestimate the joy of touching, using and…

Letting the thing you touch the most touch you.

There are thousands of books on architectural styles per se – they traverse houses, flats, commercial, cutlery, furniture, cars, landscaping and industrial – you name it, it is there. But nothing devoted to a work of art (the door handle) that is as old as the building itself. Why? Is it like the wheel? An invention so profound, so revolutionary – that we use it for our benefit without ever offering up a prayer of thanks to the genius who designed it?

Is it like the air we breathe? Subconsciously we taste it, savour it and depend on it but rarely discuss it. Nor does it cross our minds that without it all of humanity would expire within 10 to 15 minutes! Or perhaps electricity? A source of energy that revolutionised the world and made our everyday lives change immensely for the better. Yet the only time we ever give it a thought, is when the power goes off or our power bill comes! In those circumstances of course, our language does not always reflect the huge benefit that this necessity provides! Yes, the door handles in our buildings are the same – seldom thought of until they don’t work!

Give this some thought though. A door handle is the first thing you touch when you enter a building. The front entrance is the first thing you apprehend from the street. A smart front entrance can increase the value of a residence by up to ten percent because of the ‘first perception’ phenomena.

The place where you enter is the window to the soul of what’s inside

The place where you enter is the window to the soul of what’s inside and the door handle is the nexus between the senses and the physical experience. Not only is it the nexus – it embodies art, security, form and function. Whilst the exterior of a beautiful house can be admired, inspected and discussed. In addition to these experiences, a beautiful handle can also be touched. There is something about the feel of a beautiful handle, lovingly designed, manufactured, finished and packed. There is something of the spirit of the designer still residing – exuding something of the artisan, a sense of spirit and satisfaction.

Take Johannes Potente (1908 – 1987) who designed the famous classic door handle No 1020. He spent his entire career designing beautiful handles – from 1922 to 1972! He was an anonymous designer, sitting alone in his workshop carefully crafting his door handles and concentrating on the substance of the handle, not the style. The 1020 was one of the first handles to be cast in aluminium, a material that was just becoming available in 1950. The unique qualities of aluminium, its lustre and light weight, add to the form that Potente developed. This is the kind of commitment to design perfection that is seen in hundreds of handles today.

How many handles are there in the world today – billions? Multiply that by the number of hours spent designing and crafting each and every one of them. Wow – trillions of hours of love and dedication have been devoted to this art of arts? The toil of a Potente, the genius of a Wittgenstein and the patience of a Gropious are seen in them.

The first impression is always a lasting impression.

For an analysis of cost over use, door and cabinet hardware should be number one on the budget. It is often the item where corners are cut and cheaper alternatives are selected. Ask yourself the question: Will the handles you select endure up to a million uses? It is far more cost effective to pay a little more for good quality hardware and have it installed once than to have the expense of replacing poor quality, inferior handles. Finally:

The thing you use the most should be the most useable, and that which is seen first should be the most attractive.