Sherle Wagner’s Molecule Door Knob Makes Design Chemistry

If the Sherle Wagner name is “synonymous with luxury” (as the company claims), it has also been associated with ornamentation of a sort not likely to be favored by certain devotees of modern design. The New York company known for their opulent bath fittings (hand-painted Chinoiserie basins) and decadent accessories (malachite waste baskets) also offers simpler fare. Their line of modern hardware—levers, knobs, and pulls—caters to those who want contemporary lines and sleek materials. Lost inside the extravagant Sherle Wagner catalogue are hidden gems such as the Molecule Door Knob.

Molecule Door Knob. Manufactured by Sherle Wagner.

In polished nickel, the Molecule Door Knob gleams, its silver atoms reflecting light and shadow. The most interesting iconography lent to us by chemistry, the molecule highlights the perfect continuous arcs of the sphere, a three-dimensional circle. It’s the complication of the dot—and in the design world, the importance of the dot, like the stripe, cannot be ignored. The atomic grouping forms a handle that is easy to grab, making its scientific basis utilitarian as well as creative. The Molecule Door Knob belongs in every university’s chemistry lab—if form really did follow function (or if people actually acknowledged the relationship between thought and environment).


Sherle Wagner International was founded in 1945 by Mr. Wagner, a man who realized “that the utilitarian does not have to mean the mundane.” I would add that it doesn’t have to mean the rococo either. Molecule Door Knob shows what Sherle Wagner can do when reined in. Other interesting models in the Modern Fixtures Collection are Novem and Aurora. The controlled beauty of Molecule is both delightful and polished—sometimes luxury involves subtraction.

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