A smart front entrance can increase the value of a residence by up to ten percent because of the ‘first perception’ phenomena. A BMO study found that – 80 per cent of likely buyers know if the home is right as soon as they cross the threshold!

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, exquisitely crafted, and hand finished. There is something of the spirit of the designer still residing – exuding something of the artisan, a sense of spirit and satisfaction.

Indeed, the door handle, one of the smallest of architectural elements, can exert the most powerful of impacts. Architecture is usually seen as an art expressed through space and light, as if it were somehow apart from our bodies.

It is our sense of touch which introduces us to the building. It is the weight, solidity and texture of the handle which guides us across the threshold, which gives us our first impression of the architecture.

Like the building itself, the handle is not a static object but a small piece of sculpture which bears the traces and memories of use, abuse and the lives of those who have briefly touched it.

The door handle is also more than a functioning object that has to arrange optics and haptics in a special way: it represents the haptic – physical contact with a house’s architecture. And although you may only have it in your hands for seconds, sometimes not using it for days, the haptic is as crucial as the optic.

What was it about handles – door handles, axe handles, the handles of pitchers and vases – that transfixed thinkers in Vienna and Berlin during the early decades of the twentieth century, echoing earlier considerations of handles in America and ancient Greece?

And talk about antiquity! Wooden doors and door handles first appeared around 5,000 years ago, as evidenced by paintings in the tombs of wealthy Egyptians.  The oldest known lock was found by archaeologists in the Khorsabad palace ruins near Nineveh. It was estimated to be 4,000 years old.

Locks and keys were known long before the birth of Christ. They are mentioned frequently in the Old Testament and in mythology. In the Book of Nehemiah it is stated that when repairing the old gates of the City of Jerusalem – probably in 445 B.C. – they“set up the doors thereof, and the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.” At this time, locks were made of wood. They were large and crude in design; yet their principle of operation was the forerunner of the modern pin-tumbler locks of today.

Sufficient to add, if they had locks – they had handles! Solomon refers to them; “and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock”.This was written in B.C. 1012.

Currently, there are about 108 million existing doorways in Australia, with about two million new ones added every year – that’s a lot of handles!

So… how many handles are there in the world – billions? Multiply that by the number of hours spent designing and crafting each and every handle. Wow – trillions of hours of love and dedication have been devoted to this art of arts?

The toil of a Potenti, the genius of a Wittgenstein and the patience of a Gropious are seen in them one and all.

Is it not then a full vindication for a dedicated treatise to be written in honour of the door handle?

Free Ebook

Bill Wallis is the author of The Architecture of Door Handles – an Australian Perspective’ This is a comprehensive Ebook on the influence of Australian architecture on door handles. It includes an extensive catalogue of illustrated door handles and their architectural styles. It Even has a free online quiz to test your knowledge! Email bill.wallis@zanda.com.au for a free copy.

Front Entrance Door Inspiration