Pro­file: Nick Row­ell, au­thor of Door J’adore

Wan­der­lus­ter Nick Row­ellis al­ways on the hunt for beau­ti­ful por­tals. His pho­tos and those of other enthusiasts are col­lected in new book, Door J'Adore.

Project Calm - - Contents -

Born in Paris, raised in Ox­ford­shire and res­i­dent of Buenos Aires, Nick Row­ell has been sur­rounded by great ar­chi­tec­ture his whole life – or maybe it’s just that he chooses to no­tice it. Now based in London, and a keen trav­eller, his Door J’adore col­lec­tion of pho­tog­ra­phy (see @door_ jadore on In­sta­gram) and new book of the same name, shares his pas­sion for por­tals, colour, tex­ture and artis­tic de­tails. Wel­come to Nick’s world…

What is it about doors that first at­tracted you to cap­ture them?

It was ac­tu­ally my mum, when she came to visit me while I was on my univer­sity year abroad in Buenos Aires. I never re­ally paid at­ten­tion to doors much be­fore that – they were solely for walk­ing through; they were shut or open. My fam­ily is artis­tic and cre­ative, so hav­ing my mum come to visit meant that when­ever we went any­where in the city, she would keep stop­ping to look at things. I wanted to show her the whole city – but it was im­pos­si­ble to get any­where as she kept stop­ping to look at doors. Even­tu­ally, I paid at­ten­tion too. The ar­chi­tec­ture in Buenos Aires and Paris, where I was born, is very sim­i­lar. There’s a Euro­pean feel to it – the doors are huge. Peo­ple tend to live in tiny apart­ments, but to get through to those small places you have to go through mas­sive doors. They’re so big, when I vis­ited friends’ apart­ments I had to use my en­tire body weight to push them open. My mum helped me to no­tice the de­tails how­ever, whether it was door knock­ers with gi­ant drag­ons in iron or great big key­holes and locks. She was point­ing all this out to me and I started to ap­pre­ci­ate all the lay­ers – the dif­fer­ent crafts­man­ship, the his­tory be­hind them, and the in­ter­est­ing or dif­fer­ent fram­ing around them like tiles or beau­ti­ful f low­ers.

Do a place’s doors say some­thing about its cul­ture?

I just came back from Cuba and that’s ex­actly the kind of thing I’m in­ter­ested in. There’s a weird sense of his­tory and fallen grandeur there. Build­ings are crum­bling and doors haven’t been touched for ages. It’s such a rich cul­ture – and the doors are of­ten open, which says some­thing about the peo­ple. Cuba is a very artis­tic place – mu­sic flows out of ev­ery build­ing. Peo­ple also of­ten use the doors as a can­vas to work on. So you have th­ese great, big, beau­ti­ful colo­nial build­ings crum­bling and the mod­ern cul­ture rep­re­sented on to it.

Can you re­mem­ber the first door you pur­pose­fully pho­tographed?

It was in London – a door had been sanded down. While do­ing that work, the owner had gone through maybe six dif­fer­ent lay­ers of paint. Six dif­fer­ent home­own­ers had cre­ated this amaz­ing, al­most im­pres­sion­ist paint­ing feel to it. There were all th­ese dif­fer­ent colours pop­ping out, peeling through. The owner had de­cided to var­nish it as it was, it was so beau­ti­ful. The owner had made a choice. It was re­veal­ing about that per­son and the build­ing as a whole.

Do you find there’s a med­i­ta­tive or mind­ful el­e­ment to this prac­tice?

Yes, I think there is. I have a cou­ple of friends who love tak­ing pic­tures of doors as much as I do. On a nice sunny day, we’ll go for a walk and pur­pose­fully look for lit­tle gems. In­evitably we end up get­ting lost in neigh­bour­hoods we don’t know, and it’s there that you find new cafes, pretty parks and places you wouldn’t have found oth­er­wise. It’s a nice feel­ing walk­ing aim­lessly. And there is al­ways a re­ward – you al­ways find some­thing. You start notic­ing beau­ti­ful doors ev­ery­where.

Do you ever look to see what’s on the other side?

Not re­ally be­cause that would be tres­pass­ing! I don’t, but it does get me won­der­ing. You can let your imag­i­na­tion run wild – who lives here? What kind of per­son has a pineap­ple door knocker?

Did this hobby start be­fore In­sta­gram be­came a good out­let for it? How did you share your pas­sion prior to In­sta­gram?

It was much harder with­out that plat­form. I would take pic­tures but it wasn’t as ac­tive as it is now. I can do this more ac­tively now as it’s so much eas­ier to share. It’s also a great way to link up with other peo­ple. They’ll use the same door-themed hash­tags – you’ll be sur­prised by how many peo­ple take pic­tures of doors! Now I post other peo­ple’s pic­tures on @door_ jadore as well. Take a look and add #door­jadore #door­traits or #door­soft­he­world to your own images – share away!

Is there a par­tic­u­lar door in the world you’d love to see?

For years there was – a re­ally small court­yard in the City Palace of Jaipur in In­dia. It has four doors that face each other – they are all gold-plated, but all dif­fer­ent, and they’re framed by the most in­cred­i­ble paint­ings. They are the most beau­ti­ful doors in the world. You have to ac­tu­ally go there so you can turn and see all four at once. I’ve been there now. It’s the only time I’ve taken a pic­ture of my­self with the doors, I couldn’t re­sist.

Is there any­where still on your bucket list for travel?

I’ve been to Morocco, but there’s a town there, Che­fchaouen, which is com­pletely painted blue like Jodh­pur. It’s been pho­tographed so much and has gor­geous lit­tle doors. I’m dy­ing to go there! There are so many in­cred­i­ble pic­tures com­ing from there and I haven’t been yet. Door J’adore by Nick Row­ell is avail­able to Project Calm read­ers for the spe­cial price of £ 7.99 in­clud­ing postage & pack­ag­ing (rrp £ 9.99) by tele­phon­ing Macmil­lan Direct on 01256 302 699 and quot­ing the ref­er­ence 'PR1'. ry­land­peters.com

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