Door designs keep coming back

Posted: 4 Jun, 2014.

Changing face of doors

I read an article in the newspaper the other day about the release by the British Council of their archive of films produced around the time of the Second World War. It is a fascinating resource for those interested in social history, but it is also a reminder of how things have changed during that time. The intention of the films was to give people, at home and abroad, an insight into how Britain functioned at that time and to build a sense of community during a difficult period in history. The clipped middle class voice giving the commentary and the idealised view of the country pulling together are seen as old fashioned and dated to our modern eyes, but it caused me to think about how fashions have changed in my own industry over time.

Door fashion

Originally the main function of doors, certainly external doors, was primarily for security which meant a heavy wooden door usually made from oak. Depending on the wealth of the householder these doors were often carved to make them more visually appealing and to advertise the importance of the owner. In Tudor times the head of the nails were left exposed for additional decoration, an effect still used on faux Tudor doors today.

Style and fashions in doors come and go and then they come back again. For example the ornate Gothic style of the late medieval period underwent a revival in Victorian times, resulting in an increase in arched doors and doorways. I was thinking about more recent changes in fashion and how when these British Council films were being made the trend was for a reduction in decoration and flamboyance. The development of plywood gave designers the opportunity to remove all extraneous decoration and have a plain or flush door without the traditional panelling. In the 1950’s it was popular to convert traditional or “old fashioned” doors to the modern type by adding a plywood or hardboard fascia to the door to convert it into a contemporary style.

Coming and going

The fashions then moved again and the old Victorian fireplaces that had been hidden away as irrelevant were then opened up and made into a feature of the interior design. The doors would also reflect the period of the house, to give it a more authentic feel, and so the trend for panelled doors increased. Now there are so many different door styles available that there is a door produced which can fit virtually any interior design, contemporary or traditional.

It is interesting that the fashions in design ebb and flow whereas other things, once they have had their time, are unlikely to be seen again. The history of JB Kind reflects some of these changes. We used to make wooden beer crates, not something that is seen much of these days – the pictures on this blog show how our transport has changed as well. I don’t think there is much likelihood of a retro fashion in our lorry fleet!

I think, however, that as far as door design is concerned one can never be sure that something won’t make a comeback. The chance of an ornately carved heavy oak door in the Baroque style appearing on the entrance of a three bed semi is probably unlikely however. It is probable that we will not see anything like those films from the British Council being made again; they are part of our history now, but seemingly door styles are never consigned to history – they keep coming back.


By Martin Hile

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