Evolution of the door

Reader Gunnar called my attention to this really cool door, one that I’d love to have.  His comment was this:
This is smart.  Off topic, but celebratory of human beings’ endless ability to re-create beautifully.  I’d love to know how the curiosity, thoughts, ideas, and pictures developed in this inventor’s mind.

 

62 Comments

  1. Mark
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Now if he can invent something to prevent creaky-squeaky floors…

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Ah, but maybe you want them squeaky. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightingale_floor.
      But if you don’t, I believe the answer is (1) stiffer joists – my house uses solid 2×6 beams, but high quality new construction uses I-beams; and screwing, rather than nailing, the floorboards to the joists.

      • Mark
        Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        uh, my comment was rhetorical…

  2. FloM
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    If this door could sigh, it would be perfect…

    • Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      “Glad to be of service.”

      /@

      • Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

        Any chance you could do something about the tea ’round here?

        b&

        • Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

          Almost entirely unlikely.

          /@

          • Posted February 18, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

            Worth a try, though I did think it would be rather improbable. We are, after all, referring to a substance that’s almost, but not, completely, unlike tea….

            b&

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted February 18, 2014 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

              Infinite improbabili-tea, in fact.

              Sorry….. :(

  3. Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    That’s awesome!

    I sense definite echoes of Martin Gardner….

    Cheers,

    b&

  4. FloM
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    no one mentioned that this is probably intelligent design…

  5. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    A new terror for house cats…

    • Posted February 18, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      It would be very much harder for cats to open such a door than the usual hinged-at-one-vertical-edge version.

  6. moarscienceplz
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm, I suspect making that door weather-tight would be a pain.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      That was my first thought as well. How do you weather-strip it or sound-proof it?

      • John K.
        Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        From a practical standpoint, there are 3 hinges to fail instead of 2, and they need much more precise motion in three dimensions for the door to swing correctly. Installing a lock on that door that can be operated from either side also looks like a challenge. I also suspect it would be less resistant to forced operation even if it could be locked. I wonder how well it holds up to rough, slamming operation as well.

        It is very cool and decorative though. It also seems to require less swinging room for operation.

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          Also – no posters or over-the-door clothes hooks. Definitely not for a kid’s room.

          • Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

            Oh, you could have some custom posters that took advantage of the door geometry to display different designs when it was open and shut. And they’d be visible from “this” side whether the door was open or shut.

            /@

        • Cephus
          Posted February 18, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          True, but it’s also extremely impractical. How do you lock it? It’s made out of a flexible material, even if you can latch it, it isn’t strong enough to stand up to a light breeze.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted February 18, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

            It looked to me like it’s a flexagon – so the actual plates making up the door can be rigid. But the robustness of the hinges / pin joints is a real concern.
            “Design study” ; a.k.a. “no one is ever going to build a second one of these”.

            • Cephus
              Posted February 18, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

              True, but the fabric covering between the plates is a risk because it is flexible. All you need is a pair of scissors and you’re through the door. No matter how cool it looks, I’m not a fan of things that are cool looking but totally impractical for their purpose.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted February 19, 2014 at 3:36 am | Permalink

                Why do you assume that there’s no steel ($impenetrable_material”) under the 1960s-style imitation plastic?

        • Derek Freyberg
          Posted February 18, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

          Two simple pivot points at the top and bottom corners by the opening (since the triangles pivoting there lie flat against the wall as they pivot); piano hinges for the two triangles that make up each square; so far conventional, but how on earth does the middle pivot work?
          I could see a door like this as a closet door, but not much else – but maybe I’m being too conventional.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 18, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Bah! Who cares, think how much fun you’d have starting the door going then seeing how fact you could dive through it before it hit you!

      • moarscienceplz
        Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        LOL!

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted February 19, 2014 at 2:10 am | Permalink

        :) :-)

  7. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Now why do I think of hexaflexagons and such like … regular geometric bodies.
    Pin joints are wonderful things for theoretical analysis of structures. For actually building something that’s going to be robust though, that requires somewhat larger joints than I see in that door.

    • Posted February 18, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Now why do I think of hexaflexagons and such like

      Because we’re telepathetic…?

      b&

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 19, 2014 at 3:45 am | Permalink

        Great minds rarely differ, or fools think alike?
        [It's the butter knife.]

  8. Mark Reaume
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    There is something to be said about the slam-ability of a traditional door.

  9. Posted February 18, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been a design researcher for 20 years, and I’ve seen plenty of designs that , like this door, miss the point entirely. Others have commented nicely on the many shortcomings of this thing.

    It’s art; it’s a desperate attempt to invent something in a world where all the easy things have already been invented. Think about having to use doors like this many times a day for years and years.

    And how would this door work for people with various infirmities?

    Sure it looks cool, but so what? Given me something that works. If it looks cool, so much the better, but that’s just icing on the cake.

    • darrelle
      Posted February 18, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      “It’s art; it’s a desperate attempt to invent something in a world where all the easy things have already been invented.”

      Two observations.

      1) Art is a worthwhile endeavor all by itself.

      2) People making attempts like this is how things advance. Sure, 90% or more turns out not to be such a good idea, or even pure crap. But a few times attempts like this result in something worthwhile or even spectacular. Or even as just an inspiration for some other attempt that turns out to be a winner.

  10. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    If you want to see what the doors of the future look like, watch some old episodes of original Star Trek. At the time (nearly 50 years ago!) those sliding doors were considered amazingly cool and futuristic — but the technology to make them work didn’t exist then. They needed stage hands to manually open and close them on cue.

    Nowadays the technology does exist, and doors like that are so ubiquitous that nobody even notices them anymore.

    I don’t think that will be happening with this door.

    • Gunnar Holmquist
      Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      My roommate in college (Leonard Nemoy’s nephew) got to visit the Star Trek set often. Occasionally he got to be the “opener” of one side of those magical Trek doors, but told me 1/2 the time they wouldn’t slide smoothly so it was, “Cut, Retake, Action!”

      Give the new door time. Intelligent design after all deserves your FAITH!

      LOL, G

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 18, 2014 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

        Technological advances have undercut a lot of sci-fi.

        Anyone here remember viewing Patrick McGoohan’s series ‘The Prisoner’ and being impressed by two things – one, hidden spy cameras, and second, the door to Six’s house that opened and shut by itself?

        But these days, if we walk up to a shop doorway and the door _doesn’t_ open automatically, we’re quite likely to walk straight into it.

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted February 18, 2014 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

          For that matter, consider how clunky and limited (except in range) the communicators from the original Star Trek are next to a present-day smartphone.

  11. madscientist
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    All of my doors are too close to corners to open on one side and the other side is typically crammed with furniture. It’s a neat door, but not one for people with shoebox houses.

    • Posted February 18, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      This is certainly an instance of function following form.

  12. mikespeir
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Fascinating. Now, why?

  13. Posted February 18, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    All those people complaining about the functional shortcomings are missing an important point.

    I’m sure this isn’t intended as an exterior door, let alone a secure one.

    Rather, it’s intended to be used in the same types of places you’d have a Japanese paper sliding door.

    It’s design, fashion, decoration. At most, it’s for modesty.

    It needn’t stand up to any kind of abuse; just a few wrist-flick openings and closing a day, at most.

    And that it takes up wall space when open is a feature, not a flaw; it’s a sculpture when the door is open.

    Would I ever have something like this in my own house? Not a chance. But I could certainly imagine seeing them in all sorts of expensive places, from billionaires’s homes to art galleries to the top floor of corporate headquarters.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Posted February 18, 2014 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      …to the lairs of Bond villains…

      • Posted February 18, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        Exactly! You can just see the plush carpeting, the priceless stolen artwork on the walls, the nearly-naked Amazons serving cocktails, the sunken area in the center of the room, the one lounge chair which is a trap door to the shark cage, the gold statue in the corner that seems so lifelike….

        b&

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted February 18, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

          I really wish the guy demonstrating it had a monocle.

          • Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

            …or, at least, was stroking a galorious white Persian pussy….

            b&

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted February 18, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

              Or the door opened to a guy with a monocle, stroking the white persian pussy. The guy demonstrating could have a hook hand.

        • Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          Sea-bass cage.

          /@

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          So what you’re saying is that it’s suitable only for movie sets, not for real life. That I can agree with.

          But I find it hard to imagine tech billionaires wanting this thing for their high-end homes and offices. No matter how eccentric their tastes in art and architecture, those guys value designs that work for everyday use. That’s how they got to be billionaires in the first place.

          • Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

            There’re many more billionaires than just Gates, Musk, Ellison, and Jobs’s widow. And many of said billionaires — such as the Koch Brothers — inherited their wealth.

            Plus, there’re hordes of Microsoft Millionaires and their ilk and their spouses who wouldn’t know an algorithm from a logarithm from a woodpile.

            Last…don’t forget Steve Jobs’s yacht. There are absolutely cases where, function be damned, aesthetics be damned, these people want ostentatious displays of wealth.

            Cheers,

            b&

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted February 18, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

              …hordes of Microsoft Millionaires and their ilk and their spouses who wouldn’t know an algorithm from a logarithm from a woodpile.

              Citation needed.

              For the record, I’m an ex-Microsoft guy myself, and know personally a fair number of “their ilk and their spouses”, and I’ll stand by my opinion of their sense and taste over your gratuitous insults.

              In the interest of civility it’s probably best if I leave it at that.

              • Posted February 18, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

                …and their ilk.

                I’m sure you can think of at least a few of your former cow-orkers who weren’t all that bright, and I have no doubt that you could point to quite a few at Oracle, IBM, Cisco, Apple, Sun, Adobe, and many others who would fit the description.

                Even if the average employee is competent at the job, that still leaves non-trivial amounts of deadweight in any large organization.

                People know of “Microsoft Millionaires” as those people who happened to be in the right place at the right time and got stock options with the company in the early days with their paychecks, and those options are now worth millions (or more). And it’s also recognized as a generic phenomenon, not at all unique to Microsoft.

                …and, not to put too fine a point on it, Steve “Chair-Throwing Monkey Boy DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS!” Ballmer is exactly the type to go for this sort of superfluous decoration. Or, at least, he would, if he thought he could throw it easier than a chair….

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted February 18, 2014 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

                I wish I were on of those right time right place millionaires. Then I’d just do my own fun stuff all the time.

              • Posted February 18, 2014 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

                Don’t and wouldn’t we all….

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted February 18, 2014 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

                I meant “one”. My typo made my comment seem a bit salacious. I can never see on my one computer. This is my bigger laptop.

              • Posted February 18, 2014 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

                So…size doesn’t actually matter, after all?

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted February 18, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

                It does with myopia!

              • Posted February 18, 2014 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

                What’s that? Speak up, I can’t hear you — I left my glasses at the office!

                b&

              • Posted February 18, 2014 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

                How big is your opia?

                /@

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 18, 2014 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

                I instantly thought of Steve Ballmer but you beat me to it. Ben, you must be psychic!

                Now, how long would that door last in Steve Balmer’s office?

  14. Kevin
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I do not anticipate such doors appearing in labs anytime soon. I foresee hazards associated with its use, particularly in the case of emergency exits, security and/or safety issues.

  15. Jim Thomerson
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    it is something I would not have throught of, therefore I am impressed. No, I don’t want one, however.

  16. Cremnomaniac
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Nice,
    That door really is a piece of art, and clever. Although, not to be a contrarian, the design is artful but lacking in visual cues to its function. The design is limited in its “affordance”, a term coined by cognitive scientist and usability engineer Donald Norman, who published “The Design of Everyday Things.” It would likely be confusing, without prior experience, to recognize the process by which it opens and closes. In fact, it might not be recognized as a door at all. I do hope they don’t install them in public places.
    I might not have commented, but I recently reread his book. It’s very insightful if you have an interest in human behavior.

    • darrelle
      Posted February 19, 2014 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      “It would likely be confusing, without prior experience, to recognize the process by which it opens and closes. In fact, it might not be recognized as a door at all.”

      But, depending on your point of view, that could very much add to the appeal. That may actually have been a goal of the designer.


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