Italian designer Diego Amadei's highly-unusual door handle, Kobu, follows the maxim "bend it to your needs." The lever's flexible stem attaches to a more standard stiff brass core, allowing users to modify the stem into virtually any shape—from loops to stash mail to abstract squiggles—while still serving its main function. Available in a variety of finishes, the hardware welcomes visitors with a whimsical design statement before they've even crossed the threshold. Inspired by Kobu's inventive approach to such a tone-setting accessory for the home, we set out to find other handles that stand out not only for their functionality, but also for highly imaginative and ergonomic designs. Below is the refined work of six other designers who have opened new doors with their unconventional ideas.
An addition to Umbra's sleek and smart product designs, the Orb Door Handle updates the classic lever by inviting users to "push down on an orbit." The truly ingenious element is the handle's integrated LED light ring, usable as anything from a nightlight to a bathroom vacancy indicator.
Rethinking the concept of a handle as an integrated element of the door, industrial designer Karim Rashid partnered with door manufacturer Albed for the Ring Door. In place of the classic door handle, a raised area, or "volcano," houses the door's opening mechanism. Reaching inside and pulling the metal ring hidden within opens the door.
A play on today's ubiquitous form of communication,Gionata Gatto's SMnS series—meaning "Short Message non Superfluous"—is an ode to handmade messages and a reminder about non-technological methods of interaction. Inspired by the wishful message-in-a-bottle tradition, Gatto's SMnS Clip is an oversized fastener that opens doors and holds notes. The less obvious SMnS Cone has a hollow metal handle with a widened end optimized for sliding in slips of paper.
Purveyor of modern doorknobs, ModKnobs creatively reuses hockey pucks to make The Puck Pivot. Inset with premium Baldwin locks, the minimalist knobs come in nine vibrant colors with pivots either at- or off-center.
Designboom's recent collaboration with Italian handle manufacturer Colombo Design for the international Hands on Door Handles Competition produced several worthy designs. Among them is Amos Marchant's Door Handle with Wedge, which integrates a solid wood doorstop into its sleek stainless steel handle. The aesthetic of the two contrasting materials becomes functional when the stop is removed for use.
Another noteworthy product from the competition is Shmitz Thomas' Possibilità. Based on the notion that "life is always a state of improvisation," the hardware design leaves a slot for users to assert their own identities by inserting the handle of their choice. Adaptable to a range of objects (try sticks, pencils, sausages...), Possibilità is flexible in appearance and functionality depending on your age, mood or taste.