I want to talk about sci fi doors. Okay, this is important.
Actually, you’re right. It is super not important. It’s silly. But I just want you all to know that I have a real problem with sci-fi doors.
Before I get too far ahead of myself and start ripping on some artist's work, I know, I get it. I’m an artist too, and I have made a lot of sci-fi nonsense. Greebles and patterns that really don’t mean anything on machines of indeterminate function. I do it a lot. And I will do it again.
I get it. I understand. Designing something that looks futuristic and interesting is tough. There are only so many techy looking crates and boxes a person can think up before things start getting weird.
I do have a real problem with doors. Sci-fi doors. Some of ya’ll got to get it under control when you are thinking up doors.
Every single one of you has used a door. There is just no way that you are this far into an art career that you have been given the opportunity to draw, paint, model, or construct sci-fi decor and you don’t know that form and function of a door. It’s just not possible. You have used a door.
I went and typed ‘sci-fi door’ into google image search. Go ahead, try it now. Type that in. An awful lot of them look similar, don’t they. You know what they don’t look like. Doors.
Doors might be one of the most practical and least artistically adorned bits of architectural technology that we have come up with. They are never overly fancy, pokey, or embellished, because people will be interacting with a door on a near daily basis. They are usually pretty smooth. They have one extremely obvious interaction point. If they have hinges and rotate on those hinges, they have to be fairly light or at least well balanced. You know what I didn’t see in several pages of the google image search? A door on hinges. You know what most doors in the world have? Hinges. Even most doors in space and at sea have hinges. Because hinges are practical and reliable and if the door breaks, those hinges are easily accessible and repairable. You can make a solid airlock or water seal with a hinged door. Doors on hinges are good and useful, so I doubt that we will abandon them in the future.
Look at this regular ass door.
Not only is this door easy to understand, but depending on the frame it could also be watertight or even airtight. It could be fire poof, bulletproof, even blast resistant. This door probably has most of your door needs covered for centuries.
Okay, so let's just say that we have figured out a really amazing and robust sliding door mechanism in the future. They are more reliable than elevator doors and we can install them everywhere. Fine. Maybe prefabricated doors that slide into a bulkhead or some other sci-fi structure can be made cheap and common. Totally fair.
Have a look at this thing.
Again, I don’t want to drag this artist. The modelling work on display here is pretty good. The material work is nice, and the color scheme is pleasant enough. But what the absolute fuck is going on here. How do I open this? Why are there so many angles and shapes? Why do the white paint lines cross multiple panels? Is it supposed to blend into the rest of the wall? Why are there so many bits you could catch your sleeve or finger on? This door looks like it’s always a little bit greasy. Or it might give you tetanus. Whatever it is, this doesn’t look like a practical door.
That door isn’t an outlier either. I didn’t pick it just to make a point. It was literally in the top row of images when I typed sci-fi door.
So was this.
Why is the edge lit up? Wouldn’t it make more sense to light up the latch or handle? Which brings us to, where is the latch or handle? Who knows. Maybe it’s an automatic door. If that’s the case, what are all those indents and shapes for? Does it have really high cat flaps? Are there multiple peep holes? Do you have to be close enough to read the text before the automatic door sensor goes off? I don’t know about you, but 99% of the automatic doors I come across are pretty smooth. Because there is no need for all that other crap. Smooth is all it needs to be to do its job as a door.
If you thought those were odd, have a look at this.
This door looks like it intends to open me up. I can’t even guess how this thing slides or pivots. Maybe it’s like a transformer and it unfolds into an entranceway. I feel like someone said sci-fi door and this just manifested. Like calling for the Candyman.
Again, and I can’t say this enough, I am not ripping on the art. Making any of these doors is tough. It takes work. What I am questioning is when did we decide this was what a sci-fi door looks like. What in the past several centuries makes us think that we will deviate so wildly from current trend of door technology. Doors are one of the few things we as a species have really nailed. Our doors work very well.
It’s not all terrible.Have a look at this
Other than have a jog in the split of the door for some reason, it’s not bad. There is a clear touch pad or entry system off to the right. There is a door mat for you to wipe your feet on. The light is aimed at the entrance so you can both see the door and, presumably, the occupants can see on video who is at the door. Surface adornment is kept to a minimum. Access panels might hide the workings of the door for maintenance or upgrade. All in all, a well considered door. Even if it is of the slidey variety.
Have a look at this one.
That looks like a regular old, hinge door. Pretty basic. Functional. Recognizable. There is no doubt, it’s a door.
So, here is my plea. If you find yourself designing some sci-fi thing in the future, don’t overdo it. If the thing is a kettle, it’s okay if it just looks like a kettle. Doors can look like doors. Shoes can look like shoes. These are things that won’t change a lot as we venture out into the stars or to the depths of the ocean or across dimensions or whatever. A door can look like a door, and that is good enough.