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The doors most of us use every day work just fine, by and large, and we tend not to think about them too much. And I’m not sure that this flip-flop single doorknob concept submitted by Australian reader Emily T. to Dave Delisle’s website Geek Ideas would really count as much of an improvement over the conventional arrangement, in most cases.

But it’s fun, don’t you think? Fun to look at, fun to think about, and fun to imagine how our lives might be different if the simple machines that we take for granted were other than as they are. Emily’s door reminded me of this passage from Adam Haslett’s excellent short story Notes to My Biographer, which every eccentric inventor owes it to her- or himself to read:

I unhook a painting from the wall and set it on the floor. On the yellow wallpaper I draw the outline of a door, full size, seven by three and a half.

“You see, Graham, there’ll be four knobs. The lines between them will form a cross. And each knob will be connected to a set of wheels inside the door itself, and there will be four sets of hinges, one along each side but fixed only to the door, not to the frame…A person will use the knob that will allow them to open the door in any direction they want—left or right, at their feet or above their heads. When a knob is turned it’ll push the screws from the door into the frame. People can open doors near windows without blocking morning or evening light, they’ll carry furniture in and out with the door over their heads, never scraping its paint, and when they want to see the sky they can open it just a fraction at the top.”

On the wall I draw smaller diagrams of the door’s different positions until the felt nib of the pen tatters. “It’s a present to you, this door. I’m sorry it’s not actual. You can imagine it, though, how people might enjoy deciding how to walk through it. Patterns would form, families would have their habits.”

My point, if I have one, is that imaginary doors are important, too. Even if the actual ones are working just fine.

So keep ‘em coming, folks.

[Thanks, Billy Baque!]

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


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