lizard door hardware

The Design Process for Door Handles

Creating door hardware is a balancing act where artistic inspiration is balanced and refined to meet the practical demands of functionality.

Continuing from last weeks post I want to share some of the initial designs that were submitted to designer Debbie Zylstra for her client’s home in Kailua-Kona. Debbie was in the process of designing a home entertainment center in Koa wood and wanted to incorporate dramatic door pulls for sliding doors. The cabinet was grand in scale at a height of 9’ and the lizard heroic handles were considered as a possibility. These pieces are extremely realistic, and the client wanted something more stylized and original but in the reptile family so, pencil in hand, Martin sketched out the iguanas. Martin designed 2 interlocking iguanas which give the illusion of being 2 different pieces, but which use one iguana that is inverted to create a pair. To get a sense of proportion he then reduced the scale and inserted the design into a scaled drawing of the cabinet. The body and head of both iguanas project out from the cabinet door by 4” and the underside of each projects 1 ½” so that there is enough clearance for the hand to grab either the head or tail of each iguana to slide the pocket door open. The angle of the head, legs and tail were made so that the pair would interlock comfortably but leave sufficient space so that fingers would not be pinched.

Iguana Door Pulls situ.jpg
Iguanas copy.jpg

Below are the original sketches for the first large reptile sculptures that are the central pieces in the Lizard collection. Given their realistic design Martin felt he needed to create a left and right facing lizard so that he could more naturally capture the movement of a pair of lizards. The pair was designed so that the head of the right lizard protrudes beyond the slate back-plate allowing the thumb to then be extended to depress the butterfly thumb piece and thereby release the door latch.

Lizard sketch.jpg

Enjoy a virtual tropical vacation with our nature inspired door hardware

                                    Tropical Patio by New York Architects & Building Designers Ike Kligerman Barkley
While many of you across the U.S. and Canada are digging yourselves out of yet another winter storm we are continuing to bask in unseasonably warm weather here in Southern California.  I don't share this to make you feel bad but, rather, to introduce you to some of our custom hardware collections that will have you dreaming of blue skies and warmer climates.

Few places on earth have the variety of foliage and flowers as Hawaii.  The islands are alive with colorful hibiscus, the state flower, leafy green ferns, elegant orchids, fragrant plumeria and exotic protea.  We designed our orchid pull in silver plate that offers the ultimate in luxury for a client's island home.

The height of elegance, Martin Pierce's silver plated orchid stem pull.  Notice all the grooved areas. Martin Pierce Hardware

Along with amazing beaches and the unbelievable landscape, the islands are also alive with tropical birds and other native animals that have sparked fun and mysterious folk-lore tales.  Along with the orchid pull, we designed a whimsical version of a Hawaiian bird to be installed on the same property.

Hawaiian bird knob from the Hawaiian custom hardware collection of Martin Pierce hardware

To compliment this truly bespoke collection our Animal grouping features lizards, geckos, frogs and other tropical creatures that all signify warmer weather ahead.

To begin your virtual tropical vacation you can view our entire collection of architectural hardware at

Tools of the trade for custom hardware

carving tools Martin Pierce Hardware While we agree that the most important tools for any creative profession is the brain, the imagination and the hands, there are other man-made tools that do make the job easier and add those all-important details that can turn a hunk of clay, stone or metal into a work of art.  Chisels of varying sizes, hammers, mallets, knives and vises all play an important role in the final outcome of a piece of sculpture, custom hardware or furniture.

Over the years we have sporadically shared with you some of the tools that Martin uses when creating his sculptures and custom hardware molds.  As you can see from some of the photos, Martin does have his favorites that bear the marks of years of use.  But, like most things, they just get better with time.

Martin Carving a Large Lizard in Wood

Here is the result of the carving seen in the above photo---our lizard door pulls.  The close-up photo makes it possible for you to see the amazing detail and realism on the lizards and the backplate accomplished through the use of all of Martin's carving tools.

martin pierce lizard door pull right and left


We would love to hear what tools you find useful in your job.  And if you would like to view our collection of architectural hardware, custom furniture and unique sculptures, please visit us at

The third cousin of custom door hardware: deadbolts and hinges

We are all familiar with drawer pulls, door knobs and levers and how they can add interest, texture and a custom touch to any home or place of business.  However,  the smaller, but very necessary door and window hardware pieces like deadbolts and hinges are equally important and an often overlooked detail. Hedgerow deadbolt

This deadbolt from our Hedgerow collection will finish the look on any door in both the interior and exterior.  Imagine a door that features the beautiful Hedgerow Multi Point door hardware with a standard deadbolt in place of the beautiful corresponding piece we have designed...not a pretty picture!

Hedgerow interior multi point lever

If the mere sight of the keyed cylinder even with beautiful trim is too much of a distraction from the artistry of our door trim we have some clever ways of concealing the mechanism.  As shown here we use a swinging stone plate, in this case in the form of a beautiful butterfly that looks like it is going to be lunch for our popular lizard door handle,  to conceal the "working" part, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of your hardware.

martin pierce butterfly key plate mechanism



martin pierce gecko hardware

Take a look at all of your interior and cupboard doors as well as some windows and you will notice that the one thing they all have in common is some sort of hinge mechanism.  Again, you can install a standard off the rack hinge or you can continue your bespoke look by having custom hinges that coordinate or match your hardware to complete the look.  Don't overlook these small but important details when designing your own home, a public building or hospitality venue.

For more information on these products or to view  our complete line of custom hardware and get the latest news on what is happening at Martin Pierce, please visit us at