Space Conscious
June 26, 2016
Showcase On Design
June 26, 2016

Open Sesame

The doors of Pasadena mirror the diversity and artistry the city is known for.

BY: Cuyler Gibbons

PHOTOS: Fernando Cerda

“Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors where before there were only walls.” – Joseph Campbell


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If you google “quotes about doors” you get 40,100,000 results. Nearly twice as many as the 22,800,000 you get for “quotes about floors,” and almost 20 times as many as you get for “quotes about pores.” Doors, because they are a ready metaphor and deeply symbolic, are a popular, Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 1.54.52 PMdisproportionately quotable subject. Pores, though they open and close, obviously not so much.

Based on the appropriately desert dry common definition of a door, the first doors date back about 5,000 years, with the earliest evidence found in Egyptian desert tomb paintings. It is at once easily understandable, and perhaps counterintuitive why we take for granted the space through which we come and go. It’s a ubiquitous activity. In and out, all day long.  It is the type of thing you only notice through the dysfunction or artistry of the portal itself. If you care to look, or an impression is made, you are either deeply impressed or greatly hassled. Most basically, a door is of course simply a barrier from the elements and physical dangers, an entrance and exit through which people, animals and things move about. The substance of “a door,” however, both physically and metaphysically is far broader and more profound than that.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 1.55.04 PMAs metaphor, a door can represent a challenge or barrier to be overcome, or a portal to new or expanded understanding. “There are things known, and things unknown,” said Aldous Huxley, “and in between are the doors of perception.” A notion from which Jim Morrison took the name of his seminal L.A. band. The physical doors we choose to live behind can say a lot about how we view the world outside, and how we want to be viewed. From massive and imposing, or simple and unadorned, artfully carved to sleek glass and steel, or pounded iron, we invite in or bar others from our life in a myriad of individual ways.

In the service of our Design Issue, we canvassed Pasadena for doors of unique design on the theory that a town known for its outsized sense of culture and creativity would reflect that sensibility in the personal artfulness of the doors and doorways of its residents. Open Sesame…


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