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.
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