Many of us take little notice of doorknobs and door handles, yet their texture, colour and form can make more of an impact than it might at first appear. “You can take real pleasure from the way they feel in the hand, and even though they are a small part of an architectural project they are still very important,” says Marie-Veronique Swannell. Her company, Haute Deco, specialises in handcrafted handles and its showroom in London’s King’s Road gleams with the collection’s bestsellers. Increasingly, though, customers request customisation – specific sizes or colours – or a completely bespoke design. “Some clients want the same handles throughout a project; others want subtle changes for each floor,” says Swannell.
Haute Deco’s expertise in creating intricate patterns in bronze or encapsulating bronze elements into translucent resin results in designs akin to sculpture or jewellery. Handles can be textured to look like bark, stone, leather, fur or lace. Popular requests include big bronze plates mounted as handles (from £650 to £1,500 each) as well as more traditional lever handles (from £295) made unique. Such completely original designs – based, for example, on animal feathers – require a one-off prototyping cost of around £2,500-£5,000, in addition to the price for individual knobs, plates or handles.
One client commissioned bronze lever handles with a woven, textured appearance for the cabin doors throughout his yacht. Additionally, textured bronze push plates (£115-£225 each) were mounted for use as drawer handles instead of conventional knobs, and coordinating bronze bars were used for the yacht’s fiddle rails (£750 each).
Requests for customised handles for furniture (from £125 each) are also on the rise, and art deco cabinets and classical pieces have been given the Haute Deco treatment. (For each customised design, there is a one-off prototype cost, from £500, in addition to the cost of the handles.)
Swannell is especially excited about the new designs she will launch at interiors show Decorex in September. “We’re engraving disc-shaped bronze plates with monograms and motifs [from £350 each], which will open up a big avenue for our bespoke work,” she says.
When the design savvy discover what a difference a glamorous and tactile handle can make, Swannell believes they will never be content with a regular doorknob again.