Art & Culture,  COVID-19

The door that makes people smile

Lisa Fraser finds out what lies behind the misfitting door which has captured the attention of Londoners.

I had been living in North London for about a year when I discovered what I called ‘The Misfitted Door’. I remember being on the phone with a friend as I was passing it on the street, pausing our discussion to make sure I was not hallucinating, and laughing. It was as if the door and letterbox didn’t fit on their frame. 

I was immediately struck by the contrast between the skewed door and the ‘serious doors’ on either side of it.

I identified with the clunky one straight away. I was feeling a bit unsettled at that time, as if I couldn’t quite find my place in life. When I saw that door, I thought with gratitude, “Yes, there is space for weirdos in this city!”

I just had to speak to the house owner, I decided. Knocks on the door yielded no result, so then I left a note through the letterbox with contact details to get back to me. And Simon got in touch.

Simon bought what was to become the funny door flat in North London eight years ago and refurbished it completely. He had trained as an architect and went into design, while enjoying fine arts too.

He had the idea of designing a door that would make people laugh when they passed by. 

He contacted half a dozen door manufacturers to try to give flesh to his idea, but they didn’t get the concept. Things looked up the day Simon approached a door manufacturer in Tottenham. This craftsman was used to producing regular doors, but the concept of ‘a door to make people smile’ appealed to him. Simon sent the design and Photoshop sketches, and he visited the workshop a few times. 

As it happens, designing unusual doors doesn’t take much time – just about half a day more than a traditional  door, to apply the special moulding. It didn’t even require a special permission from the City Council, as the property was not located in a protected area. 

When he had the idea in the first place, Simon was in two minds: would the concept work? How would the neighbours react? But he needn’t have fretted. The door has been a huge success. The neighbours were positive about the initiative. Simon regularly sees passers-by stopping, laughing and taking pictures. One of the pictures received 40,000 likes on social media, and was even featured in the UK national newspaper, the Daily Mail.

Chatting with Simon was really inspiring. He could not have known in advance whether his idea would be well-received, but he went ahead with his vision, and he was proven right. The Misfitted Door does make people smile and brighten their life. 

Moral of the story? With everything we’ve been through during the pandemic, we need creativity and arts even more: they can lift our moods and lead us through to recovery.

As for me, I think about the door each time I feel anxious and unsettled: there’s a frame that can hold every misfitted door in this life.

Have a look at Simon’s design work here: Feast Creative,

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Lisa Fraser is a writer for Adamah Media. She has worked as a political Special Adviser, in lobbying and as a consultant, before joining the Civil Service. She loves having long walks, visual arts, and reading books about history and politics.

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