Seeking Closure: A Treatise on Doors, Part 2

A Guide to Three Element Design 

With all the wonderful materials that can be utilized in the construction of a door, it is important to know when enough is enough. Great design does not need to be complicated. How not to add too many elements to the design of a door is as important to the design as any other aspect. I like to stick to a self-imposed rule of three design elements. 

By three elements I mean textures, materials and prominent design features. An example would be like the door pictured below. It has three primary elements: contrasting wood species, a glass element, and a bent wood “eyebrow” over the glass. Even with just three elements it is easy to overwork the design. This door pushes the boundaries on elements, but is not overly busy.

Mesquite Stiles and Rails with Sweet Gum panels, Mesquite inlays, Teak Bent Wood Eyebrow & Bronze Tinted Glass

Mesquite Stiles and Rails with Sweet Gum panels, Mesquite inlays, Teak Bent Wood Eyebrow & Bronze Tinted Glass

Given the trend to more contemporary/modern/minimalist doors, this three element rule isn’t really isn’t an issue. With this door style, it is best to let the materials and workmanship speak for themselves. A striking design can be achieved with minimal elements.

Modern Cherry Door with Bronze Reflective Glass & Floating Panels

Modern Cherry Door with Bronze Reflective Glass & Floating Panels

Like with any other architectural features, a door should really be an expression and an extension of its surroundings.  Sometimes less is more, and sometimes more is more.

Knowing when to say when is enough, is vital. The possibilities are endless. Yet design parameters can be your greatest strength.

Seeking Closure: A Treatise on Doors, Part 1

What is a Door?

A better way to approach this question is to ask what WAS a door.

Originally a door was most likely an animal hide covering the entrance to a cave or other primitive dwelling. A protective measure against the elements. From there, doors have evolved to simple wood planks all the way to huge decorative bronze doors for temples.

Doors have evolved, but the primary mission remains the same—protection from the elements and a boundary between a habitable space and the wild outdoors. Once the basic requirements for a door have been met, the design aspect can be considered. And that’s where we start to have fun.

While doors do follow trends just like any other architectural element, there are time tested designs that can be relied upon, or modified to create the look and feel desired.  There really is no limit as to the appearance of a door. Myriad material combinations, and construction techniques ensure that doors as an art form will continue to advance and expand. 

Here is one example of a modern version of a classic wood door we designed and built for a client in Austin. Our three-lite white oak pivot door is bold and yet understated, which gives it sophistication.

Photo cred: Paul Bardagjy

Photo cred: Paul Bardagjy

We at SWING pproach doors as functional furniture, a canvas on which you can project your personal aesthetic. We strive to elevate the art of doors with quality design, expert craftsmanship, and an eye for detail.

Photo cred: Paul Bardagjy

Photo cred: Paul Bardagjy

System M Pivot Hinge by FritsJurgens

Headquartered in the Netherlands, the FritsJurgens company has developed the nicest, cleanest hinges for pivot doors. We think they’re basically one of a kind for high-end residential applications. Their System M pivot hinge offers many benefits.

“System M pivot hinge adds a totally new dimension to the FritsJurgens pivot door range by creating an unsurpassed experience: total control over the flow and movement of the door. The opening is as light as a feather, the movement extremely elegant, and the closing as soft as a whisper.
All this thanks to our brilliantly engineered, patented dampeners that operate in seamless co-ordination.

Self-closing from -125˚ to + 125˚

  • Hold positions at 0˚, 90˚and -90˚

  • Adjustable closing damping (soft close)

  • Hydraulic backcheck (wall protection)

  • Can be combined with door frames

  • Patented system”

    From the FritsJurgens website

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

At the SWING workshop: Aaron setting the System M hinge in the frame

At the SWING workshop: Aaron setting the System M hinge in the frame

What makes pivot doors special?

The creative possibilities are endless.

You may have seen in architectural magazines, on Instagram or on finer homes around town a new type of door that’s slightly larger, heavier looking and has a unique swing pattern. That’s because over the last five years or so architects and designers are turning to pivot doors more and more in their designs. Given their modern, sophisticated and effortless look, front doors can now act as pieces of architecture in and of themselves.


But what makes a pivot door different? … It’s in the technology.

Pivot doors don’t rely on traditional butt hinges attached to the door frame. The door pivots or swings on a single axis within the door, which distributes the door’s weight more evenly. Traditional hinge doors can typically be no larger than about 42”; but with the pivot door’s interior spindle and pivot box, doors can be wider, taller, heavier and more ornate. Woods, metals, glass, stone and large-scale hardware can adorn the door without fear of warping. 

But perhaps its greatest appeal is the pivot door’s ability to open up the outdoors to the home’s interior. With bigger doors comes bigger openings, which can seamlessly blend the inside with the outside—a lifestyle touch that defines the contemporary home.

Each pivot door incorporates different materials and places the spindle at slightly different locations within the door giving the opening a unique effect. We’ve seen pivot doors in all kinds of applications, both exterior and interior, commercial and residential, but we’ve noticed with our clients that the entryway pivot door has the biggest design impact.