Bordeaux, France has a reputation for wines like no other place on Earth–it’s the go-to destination for true wine geeks. It’s also a great place if you are a door geek. And there may just be a cultural connection between these two forms.
This notion came to me as I was walking the streets of Bordeaux and finding a large number of residential doors that had a similar shape and proportion to the classic high shouldered Bordeaux wine bottle. Click here to view Bordeaux Doors. The conventional wisdom holds that the shape and design of the Bordeaux bottle came about because the high tight shoulder helped keep sediment from flowing into glasses with the wine. But this is just a theory, and no one knows for sure. So I offer my preferred theory: The bottle shape resulted from the subconscious influence of shapes of the traditional doors found throughout the city.
The design of everyday objects shapes our thoughts and guides our decisions, which is why design is so constantly relevant. If the pen you write with has good form, you will be encouraged to shape your words more elegantly. If the chair you sit in is uncomfortable and unattractive, you will be less likely to be friendly and accommodating to your guests (and they to you). If the bike you ride has precision and balance, you will feel better about yourself in transit, and sharper when you arrive at your destination. Wear a good blazer (or stylish stilettos) to work and you will answer the phone with a different attitude than if you are dressed in a sweat shirt or casual running shoes. Though we may not notice, the effects of design on us everyday are subtle and significant.
It follows then that if you go in and out of a tall, elegant door every day, you are probably less likely to design a squat, round bottle for your wine or water. And if every door you pass through varies in age, proportion, and color as well, as they do in Bordeaux, you are likely to develop an appreciation and taste for subtleties, which is what it takes to appreciate Bordeaux wines. Like the best artworks, they are as complex and nuanced as wines can be, and the best ones build up more character over time. Like fine old doors.
I have an obsession with doors and constantly photograph them, especially in the older neighborhoods of old cities. And I have a theory about my obsession, which is, I hope, less of a reach than my Bordeaux theory. The reason I am attracted to old doors of many colors is simply because most modern doors are so lacking in character. And this notion came to me while walking the streets of San Francisco and realizing that many modern doors have been neutered, wood replaced by glass, subordinated by more prominent architectural features to the point of being almost hidden from public view, and generally reduced as part of the architectural vocabulary. Click here to view San Francisco Doors. Given the modern dominance of the automobile, the once-noble door is often featured less prominently than the garage door, at least in this city and around California.
Efficiency trumps character in our car culture. This is understandable, I suppose, but regrettable nevertheless. Perhaps one of the best things about this time of year is that, with holiday decorations, the door–whether humble or haughty–once again takes on its former prominence.
I encourage you to make comments that can be shared with the public by using the Post Comments section below.