Zaha Strikes Again

First there were her strappy plastic shoes for the Brazilian company Melissa, unveiled last month. Now Zaha Hadid has designed a door handle for the Italian manufacturer Valli & Valli. When Dezeen posted a sneak peek of the design after its Milan preview, a commenter noted the handle’s resemblance to the “wrath of Zeus.” (The press release calls the design “striking”—ha.) It does seem a bit aggressive. On the other hand, maybe it’s just what you need to put some zip in your step as you’re heading out the door.

Thinking about door handles: I’m reminded of Arthur C. Danto’s fine review (PDF), in last April’s ArtForum, of Steven Holl’s new interiors for the New York University Department of Philosophy. Danto writes: “Holl likes to say that the door handle is the primary point of contact between the body and the building, and the one change he was able to make on the NYU building’s landmarked exterior was the door handles.” Holl’s handles have an impressive pedigree: they’re based on the ones Ludwig Wittgenstein designed for his sister’s house in the late 1920s, which supposedly took the Austrian philosopher a full year to perfect. Holl says that the lever “is small enough for the human hand and provides an intimate scale of interaction as the philosophers operate the four-foot-wide pivot doors to their offices.”

Hadid’s handle, on the other hand, was originally conceived for her interiors in the all-star Hotel Puerta América. A one-night stay in her “space club” this fall will run you somewhere between 250 and 390 euros, so perhaps the lightning-bolt design is equally appropriate: where Holl references the philosophical tradition, Hadid’s lever should make her boutique-hotel guests feel like one of the gods.

For more on “the gesture of the hand, the turn of the knob, and the motion of the door,” be sure to read Akiko Busch’s 2007 essay “Just Open the Door.”

Categories: Products