Commercial Doors and Door Hardware as Design Elements

I’ve been wondering: who typically selects the commercial doors and hardware for the projects you’re working on? I really want to know. In fact, I’ve been asking this question in the Architectural Practices and End User Organizations I’ve visited across the U.S.

Based on the responses I’ve gotten, I can tell you who’s not typically selecting commercial doors and hardware: Designers.

I don’t like it, but I get it. Because until recently – within the last 10 years or so – commercial doors and hardware were considered “commodity” products, devoid of aesthetic distinction, typically selected for function alone. That’s not Designer territory, is it?

There’s no doubt about it. Life safety and security are job number one for commercial doors and hardware. But aesthetics matter, too. In hotels, hospitals, offices, schools and universities, apartments and condominiums, performance spaces and libraries, in every space we sweat every last design detail, the doors and door hardware should be among those “sweated” design details. We all know how they detract from a space when they’re wrong. Well, they never have to be wrong. Just consider this dynamic as it relates to other building products like lighting and bath fixtures. Each of these products has an important job to do, but their aesthetic attributes routinely influence their selection…by a Designer.

Doors and door hardware may be the most intimate points of contact we have with a building. We’re affected by the way a door looks, and by the way the lever or pull on that door feels. Of course doors and hardware should be functionally appropriately. But they should also contribute to the dominant attitude of a space and the human experience. And there are so many ways commercial doors and hardware can do that.

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