Earlier in the year, during a rare lapse into normality, a friend of mine came to visit Helsinki from Copenhagen.
She was amazed to observe that the front doors of apartments in Finland do not have door handles. Rather, the door is opened by inserting the key and pulling it, allowing the weight of the door to do most of the work.*
As a foreigner living in Finland, this has become normal, but I sometimes find myself wondering about the subconscious messages these kinds of regional quirks send.
For example, a door without a handle, becomes a wall-by-proxy to anyone other than the keeper of the key. Although no less accessible, it seems immediately less welcoming than a handled door, or one equipped with a plump doorknob replete with knocker, inviting visitors to announce themselves.
It is tempting to try and extrapolate these differences into key signifiers of various national psyches, but really they are just evidence of the endless, and joyful, variation that can be found amongst objects we rarely appreciate.
Your shoelaces, a handrail you didn’t see until you needed to grab it, the diameter of a pencil, a lamp that doesn’t shine in your eyes.
The things we use everyday, the items, places and experiences we take for granted, are the sum total of our shared human experience, designed by committee over millennia. They may be common, but they are borne from the things we all have in common.
* For this reason, I have often thought that a great product would be a keyring shaped as a doorknob.