Are Saloon Doors About to Have a Moment?
When touring Justina Blakeney’s LA home earlier this summer, AD digital design editor Sydney Gore clocked something unexpected in one of the bathrooms: Were those saloon doors? “My daughter calls them ranchero,” Blakeney told her, of the reclaimed pair from India, decorated with an intricate mother-of-pearl inlay. “We added this fun saloon moment to create some privacy for the loo.”
It got us thinking. In a moment of fast-passing microtrends—cottagecore, Barbiecore, even carnivalcore—is the Wild West the next frontier? Before you tip your hat, hear us out: You may be picturing those corny theme-park façades (think Jupiter’s Claim, which Jordan Peele recently revived for Nope, his new Western sci-fi thriller). But the short, double swinging doors—call them café doors if you prefer, but where’s the fun in that?—can work wonders outside of cowboy kitsch.
Take Sienna Miller’s beloved English cottage, for instance, in which the actress draws attention to a pair of salvaged saloon doors in the bathroom. Then there’s The River, New York’s hot new Chinatown bar dreamt up by AD100 design firm Green River Project, in which a twiggy set carved from sarsaparilla (a climbing vine native to the Amazon rainforest) is installed at the entrance. The New York Times deemed the woodsy watering hole, “a saloon for the downtown fashion set.”
“It operates like a tactile portal into the interior,” Green River Project cofounder Ben Bloomstein explains. “It’s almost uncomfortable to walk through them, but I think passing through a saloon door is like a very brief ritual. It’s significant to thrust your body through some wood panels.”
Not surprisingly, the design move lends itself to hospitality projects like bars and restaurants, where swinging doors with visibility above and below can allow patrons to make an entrance (as Bloomstein describes) or create easy passage from a dining area to a kitchen or prep space.